Demystifying Dementia: Mr S’s story
In today’s blog we hear from Mr S, a 70-year-old Onward customer living with dementia. He tells us how his diagnosis changed his life.
70-year-old Mr S came into Onward’s supported housing scheme after a relationship breakdown. For six months he was very independent and was able to look after himself, but then he started seeing some changes in his memory.
He found he was regularly forgetting to turn off taps and his cooker. One afternoon he took the bus into town for a regular journey but when he got there realised he had no idea how to get back home.
Mr S went to visit his GP and was diagnosed with the early stages of dementia. At this point his life completely turned upside down.
The aftermath of the diagnosis
After the diagnosis Mr S’s GP sent him for a test and a brain scan. He was then prescribed a ‘memory busting’ drug to help him manage his condition. He was also visited by a Community Practice Nurse every two weeks to help him with his medication and any additional support he needed.
What Mr S found harder to deal with though was the emotional impact of the condition.
“I was very annoyed at myself at this point in time,” says Mr S.
“I was feeling very vulnerable and unsure of my future. This made me struggle with anxiety, sleepless nights and my mental health became unstable.”
Luckily, Mr S says he received good support from dementia charity Alzheimer’s Society and engaged with the navigator team.
Getting help and support
Together Mr S and his support network made little changes to help him cope, like using a white board and post-its to remind him of daily tasks and appointments.
“I stopped cooking and used a microwave and slow pot instead, which took away the risk of fire,” he says.
“I also used an egg timer to help remind me not to walk away in the middle of a job, leaving taps running or things half done.”
How it affects everyday life
The condition began to impact Mr S’s daily life in other areas too, but he kept finding hacks to work around the issues.
“I had been lost a couple of times so I made notes on my iPhone to remind myself of landmarks. This helped when getting on and off busses,” he says.
“I also started to shop online with the help of the navigator as going to stores became very frustrating, especially as items are moved daily in supermarkets.
“I now try to make one day a week to look at my notes and update them for the following week.”
Four years on
Four years after his diagnosis Mr S’s medication has been a great success.
“I have good days and bad days as I am always thinking about the future,” he says.
“I’m very lucky that I went to my GP early enough to start the tablets. I will always have to be super prepared and plan ahead just in case but I am still independent.”
If you’re worried about your memory or are living with dementia, our charity partner Alzheimer’s Society has lots of great resources on its website.
We also provide different types of support for our customers – find out how we can help you on our Care and Support page