First meeting of Women with Dementia group in York

Yesterday was our first meeting of the Women with Dementia club organised by the wonderful Emily Abbott and alley assisted by her new admin support Lorraine Blacker.

It was another gorgeous sunny day. I caught the bus into Beverley and then had an hour to wait until my bus to York so settled into Nero’s with their free wifi for the duration😊 The flags are just starting to go up around the town as the Tour de Yorkshire starts here next Friday.
The sky was clear blue as we trundled towards Market Weighton…

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Lorraine kindly agreed to pick me up at a bus stop just before the city centre and it all turned out perfectly.

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Sadly a few women that were meant to be there were either not well or something else had cropped up but they’ll hopefully join us next time.

Lorraine, Emily and Elaine....
Lorraine, Emily and Elaine with the vital resources of tea…..

We started off just chatting about anything and everything and there was much laughter yet again from the start. Elaine relayed how she’d met Eddy and his wife in town yesterday and she said it was like meeting family. Elaine is the one who hadn’t been out of the house for years before joining the Minds and Voices support group and met Eddy There. Just shows the power of peer support.

Emily told us how this group came about and how it is affiliated to the DEEP network just like Minds and Voices – she reminded us how Joseph Rowntree Foundation did the study around Women and dementia last year More can be found at:

www.dementiawomen.org.uk

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They produced the booklet of photos and words that women said at the time……….the photos are lovely, the nicest thing being you can’t tell who had dementia and who hasn’t, just the same as you can’t tell in our group.

The element of choice wasn’t present before so women just were assumed to be the carer. I wouldn’t want my daughters to care for me.

The thing that came up again and again was that the women interviewed really enjoyed spending time with other women. We all agreed and hence the birth of our group!

Ann started telling us about how she remembered when you had to pay for a GP to visit and how she remembered when the NHS came into being. The rest of us couldn’t imagine the NHS not being around.

Elaine remembered the midwife smoking a ciggie while she was giving birth to twins and the other 2 ladies remembered the same midwife in York!!😱

We all thought our babies were beautiful and Ann said her mum said in her hearing “I’m a bit disappointed in her face’ and Emily said her dad said she looked like a librarian when she was born 😳 so can’t imagine what she looked like!!

We somehow got onto the subject of bald men and how newspapers were reporting that they were being attacked by seagulls as they kept thinking they were rocks……..more raucous laughter 😂😂😂

Emily then got us focussed again and spoke of a couple of groups who would like to meet us. ‘Door 84’ – a youth club for teenagers in York – have asked us to do something with them. They have a group who would like to meet and talk to us and the discussion we’d just had about childhood games would be really good. We thought how brilliant it would be if we could get our hands on the old games we used to play like Whip and top, French skipping, cat’s cradle and Jacks. We could do a swap of games with the teenagers where we could show them the games we played and they could show us the technology they use.

‘Gingerbread’ for single parents – the one in York is quite new – said they’d like us to meet them and share our experience of bringing up children. It would be nice to mix and match the generations and support each other. So many groups are age related so it would be nice to mix the generations.

In the local Bootham Mental Health Hospital they have a sign that says ‘For the insane’…….when Elaine asked the doctor why it was still allowed to be there he said that it was to show how it used to be as people with dementia were classed as insane. . Elaine then said ‘just think, we could all be in a mental hospital – what chaos we would have caused it they put us altogether in a home!!’

After a wonderful lunch made by Lorraine, we had an amble outside for some fresh air in the sunshine and took a lovely couple of photos…….

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We finished off by Emily bringing us back into focus and mentioning that the wonderful Helen Roberts has asked if she can be involved with us to help with speaking in public. Helen used to be my daughter Sarah’s lecturer at York University and I’ve worked with Helen, both with the students and with healthcare professionals on one of her courses. I said that Helen will probably make it such fun that we won’t even realise we’re doing it. But it’s also learning a new skill for many, which has been proved to help in keeping our brains ticking over.

In the blink of an eye, our time was up – I don’t think I’ve ever had such random notes from a meeting – most of which I can’t re produce!! Just goes to show what a laugh we had.

Ann at one point laughed:

“Laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you cry alone”

what a nice way to end this blog……..a wonderful laugh and chatter was had by all.

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About wendy7713

On the 31st July 2014 I was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. I may not have much of a short term memory anymore but that date is one I’ll never forget. I’m 58 years young, live happily alone in Yorkshire, have 2 daughters and I’m currently still in full time employment in the NHS. However, I’m now in the process of taking early retirement to give me a chance of enjoying life while I’m still me. I've started this blog to allow me, in the first instance, to write all my thoughts before they’re lost. If anyone chooses to follow my ramblings it will serve as a way of raising awareness on the lack of research into Alzheimer's. It will hopefully convey the helplessness of those diagnosed with dementia, as there is no cure – the end is inevitable. However, I’m also hoping I can convey that, although we've been diagnosed, people like me still have a substantial contribution to make; we still have a sense of humour; we sill have feelings. I’m hoping to show the reality of trying to cope on a day to day basis with the ever-changing environment that dementia throws at those diagnosed with the condition. What I want is not sympathy. What I want is simply to raise awareness.

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