When I first moved here however long ago, I knew the villagers wouldn’t take kindly to an outsider coming in and immediately wanting to make them a good community for people with dementia, like me. So I’ve bided my time……..quite rightly…..
I needed them to accept me simply as me to begin with, not as someone to worry about because I had dementia. I also wanted them to come to me in due course to know more, as people learn better if they’ve asked rather than if they’re told they need to learn.
For my neighbours it was important I allayed any fears and concerns from the start as the people I’d bought the house from knew I had dementia and seemed the sort to have told people. To be told you’ll have someone living with dementia, on their own next door, when you might not have any understanding must be a bit of a scary thought……especially if I’d have left them to come to their own conclusions. It may not have helped me either!
So I TALKED to them – it’s well written in my book how I met one neighbour. For the other side, they invited me in for a cuppa and we laughed and joked and left with phone numbers, should I ever need help.
I’ve had nothing but kindness from all my neighbours.
Gradually, as the media articles filtered through the village, it became known to far more that I have dementia. It’s a welcoming village anyway and that’s what appealed to me from the start; the friendly faces and hellos’ as you walk around.
The older people in the village all acknowledge I have dementia but never say the word itself. At the bus stop, as I join many of the older generation, we chat happily waiting for the bus and then I’m allowed on first…….just so they’re happy I get on, and then even the bell rung on the rerun journey to make sure I get off……..and if I’m waiting at the town bus station people make sure I get on the right bus, especially after to the confusion of late with the change in bus numbers.
So you see I live in a kind, people friendly village.
My blog recently told of the wonderful afternoon I spent at the village school talking to all 272 children about dementia. I could have approached the school earlier, but that wouldn’t have worked in the same way. I waited until the time was right and the Head approached me.
I had trouble with the dustbin collectors not bringing my bin back to my pathway; they left everyone’s on the main road. But I found it difficult to drag it up the steps back home again. So I wrote to the council and explained the difficulty and now, each week, my bin is brought back to my house. Simple solution achieved by talking and explaining…..
So my village is slowly but very surely, becoming more dementia aware because they want to, not because they’re being told they have to and because they’re listening.
Which led to a wonderful invite last night to the village book club. This month they’d all been reading my book and last night was their discussion night.
Pam, who had asked if I would attend, came to pick me up as it was only a few years from home in the village pub. She’d spoken to me a while ago and then posted a note through my letterbox. The note offered different ways of contacting her as she’d read how the phone was difficult – wonderful……..
We were the first to arrive and the local pub allows them to use the room free, they just buy a drink while they’re there and Pam immediately got me a cuppa tea😇
The others started to arrive and before we knew it everyone was seated. I didn’t take my ipad so havn’t a clue what we talked about but they said the kindest things. I remember we laughed an awful lot. The local library still has a queue of people waiting for my book😳 so one person sadly hadn’t been able to get a copy. Others had read it on kindles, others had bought the book. They all said how much they’d learnt about dementia and positivity……
It was way past my bedtime when I left but I remember feeling very happy and before I left they agreed to me having a piccie of their cheery faces…….
if they met me in the village, they’d now simply introduce themselves as the Book ladies……..a wonderful evening a few yards from my home…..❤