Mum was in her fifties when she was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, but it wasn’t until Dad died suddenly that the full extent of her illness became clear. I quickly realised Mum couldn’t live alone, so I gave up my job in London and become her carer. I was very fortunate to have three siblings Simon, Gemma and Mark, who were prepared to help practically and financially, and we also employed professional carers when necessary. Even so, those first few months were absolute hell. Eventually we realised that if Mum wasn’t to sit staring at the TV all day, we needed to keep her busy and give her a sense of purpose. Gradually, with a fair amount of imagination and ingenuity, we discovered ways to make life more enjoyable for Mum and a bit easier for all of us. Moments when Mum looked happy or excited, however brief, became precious. Mum died peacefully at home on February 17 2011, aged 67. The five years I spent caring for her changed me profoundly. I felt compelled to share what I’d learned – and to learn more – so that the dementia journey can be a bit easier for everyone. It’s a tall order, I know, but here’s what Unforgettable.org is doing to make it happen.
James Ashwell, founder of www.unforgettable.org spent five years caring for his mum who had early onset dementia. They were the hardest years of his life, but they gave James a passion to help others on the dementia journey. Here James explains how Unforgettable might be able to help you.