THE daughter of someone I know was warned that she would effectively ‘lose her mother’ after she was diagnosed with dementia.

All semblance of the woman she once was would be gone, as the disease progressed, including presumably her mothering capabilities.

“It wasn’t true, “ though, she said. During moments of affection or when the pair were listening to a favourite piece of music, the love was still there, as tangible as it ever had been.

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Keith Mitchell of elderly care charity Glasgow’s Golden Generation says it’s a common assumption that people suffering from dementia are completely incapacitated.

I’m ashamed to admit and with no experience of dementia in my immediate family, I was guilty of sharing at least a modicum of belief in that.


Having spent a day visiting the charity’s three day centres and spending time with the people affected and their families, I feel far better informed about the illness and its effects.

Everyone I spoke to was still living in their own homes. The repetition in our conversations and frequent memory lapses were really the only clue they had dementia.

As Alzheimer’s suffer Dorothy MacFadyen, 87, said: “I don’t go to bed thinking, oh that’s another day over.” She was smartly dressed and living a full and active life.

Research has shown that social isolation is one of the major risk factors for dementia and it’s clear that the centres, which offer companionship and brain engaging activities are helping people with dementia to live well.

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Keith estimates that attendance at facilities such as theirs can delay admittance to care homes by as much as three years and it was a frustration to see how badly they needed modernisation, considering how much of a role they are playing in Glasgow’s elderly care system. It would be great to see new state-of-the art buildings created, with the same design ethos as the Maggie’s cancer centres, which place a huge importance on the link between environment and health.


June Andrews, an expert in dementia, says as a society we don’t respect older people. “We are sentimental about older frail people,” she says, “but faced with their need at the worst time of life, we fail to fund their care, or visit them in hospitals or care homes, or support their families.”

However, for me it’s less about respect, which should be afforded to everyone of any age and more about casting aside our preconceptions about dementia and older people in general and treating everyone as an individual, no matter the age.