Why attend an Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Café? Graham and Sheila’s story

Sheila: The first interaction with anyone,
any practical, any practical help was going along to the first, the very first, dementia
café and meeting people being welcomed. Debbie: It’s lovely for us as Dementia support
workers when we meet new people who have been newly diagnosed or first come to us it’s
sort of exciting to be able to tell them about the café’s and about other people there
that they will meet. Sheila: When Graham and myself first met
we were Graham: Single
Sheila: We were, well compatible. We’ve had a lovely, lovely marriage. We went on
holiday and Graham bent down to pick something up and something happened to him, he thought
it was a migraine. Graham: I thought I had had a migraine attack
just like that, you know and that’s all the symptoms I could feel, I’d had a migraine.
Sheila: A bad migraine and instant one Graham: But Sheila and her sister
Sheila: My sister recognised it as a mini stroke and he wouldn’t let me do to the
doctors when we got back home he wouldn’t do anything about it but then I noticed things
he was forgetting things. Six months later he had chest infection or something we went
to the doctors and I mentioned this because it was getting worse and he said ‘Well you
should have come at the time but we will send you for a scan’. So it was a bit of a shock
and then it was diagnosed. Graham: They took my licence off me straight
away. Sheila: Diagnosed as vascular dementia. Well
it seemed like the end of the world that, I didn’t know how to treat him it was awful
time that. Graham: The things that I thought most of
in my life I had to give them up, we didn’t know who to go to.
Sheila: We didn’t get any practical help did we?
Graham: No, no. Our daughter started looking. Sheila: For leaflets
Graham: For us, leaflets and what have you and then we found this dementia café’s
thing. Sheila: Graham say’s ‘I’m not going,
I’m not going’ he was so definite about that definite ‘I’m not going’.
Graham: I thought if I go to these places I am going to meet people like me and it’s,
I don’t know it’s going to make me worse, that’s what I thought.
Debbie: A memory café is for anybody with a diagnosis of dementia or for somebody caring
for somebody with dementia an it’s a place to gather together to get information and
support. Helen: And it’s a chance to meet wonderful
people like Sheila and Graham and hopefully make a little bit of a difference to their
lives. Graham: Fantastic
Debbie: Only because I brought him a sandwich. Sheila: And there’s a lot more, there are
more of them as well. Graham: There’s more too them but they are,
if you need any help you’ve only got to go to any of them and they will put you in
the right direction for further information, you know they know the people that you have
to go to. Everybody’s friendly and if you need any help you’ve got the staff to help
you, advice you know it’s entirely different to what I expected. If anybody is in the same
position as I am, needs help, they want to come to these café’s.
Sheila: This has changed our lives completely we understand each other better, we’re relaxed
and now, it may sound strange, dementia doesn’t seem to be the biggest evil in life.

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