I’m not declining into an old woman……

Some of you may know that I’ve been acting as a consultant, advising the cast of theatre production of Still Alice.

I worked closely with Sharon Small who has taken on the challenging role of Alice and Eva Pope who plays ‘Herself’.

Sharon said to me recently how one piece of advice I gave her has stuck with her and helped her enormously. During the very first rehearsals at Leeds Playhouse earlier in the year, Sharon was struggling with the decline aspect so she started to use a walking stick. But I said it looked all wrong as she depicted an ageing person. She was becoming the hunched up old woman.

I said:

Im not becoming an old woman I’m cognitively declining.I wobble due to my gait changing, not because I’m getting older. My balance is effected due to the signals from my brain, not because I’m getting older”

Light bulb moment for Sharon and one which has stayed with her ever since.

Maybe that’s why many question our diagnosis because we’re not the right image in people’s minds? We don’t have the wrinkly hands, the sad ageing faces as often depicted in the media. We have smiley often young faces. The photographs of us all in Dementia Diaries show this clearly. Take a look:

https://dementiadiaries.org/

Yes we all have days of tears, sadness and frustration but doesn’t everyone? Isn’t that simply life? We have the added tears, sadness and frustration caused by dementia on top of life.

What helped Eva, who is playing “Herself” (who shadows Alice during the play and who speaks her inner thoughts) was the conversation we had about my Inner-self. I frequently talk to my old self and ask for advice, she’s a reassuring presence for me. This helped her understand her role better.

Both actors have succeeded amazingly well but not only been due to their unquestionable acting skills but also due to the fact they listened and learned. They wanted to get it right.

So many others should take a leaf out of their book and…..watch, listen and learn?

 

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.

9 thoughts on “I’m not declining into an old woman……

  1. I am older than you and have been using a walking stick, due to osteoarthritis. Many friends, older than me, will never do this. These people would also benefit from eyeglasses and hearing aids, but do not want to be seen as ‘old women’. Sad, but true…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Not sure there is an alternative, Wendy…
        What we are learning from you is the importance of accepting our disabilities and get on with life.
        Keep up the good work!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Wendy. We as a book club enjoyed your book very much! We are around your age and felt you felt with each of your challenges with solutions. Isn’t that all we want; to manage as best we can.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You describe it very well Christine, and what a blessing the actors listened to you….that will have a major mpact on people in the community (the audiences) and their understanding of our challenges. Of course some of us are old(older), but not all of us. X

    Liked by 1 person

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