My Dementia Story: Rachel, Digital Marketing Assistant
First things first: hello! My name is Rachel and I am thrilled to be joining the team here at The Ally Bally Bee Project as Digital Marketing Assistant, through the fabulous Adopt An Intern. Over the next few months I will be working alongside project founders Matthew, Nina and Wee Lana to expand upon the book’s success, generate exciting new ideas, and generally spread the word of this fantastic cause as far and as wide as possible to help more children understand dementia.
Dementia. At first, it may seem like quite a scary word; and with over 800,000 people living with the disease in the UK alone, it’s likely that most of us have at least a small connection to it, either personally or through someone we know. A few weeks ago, I sadly lost the only grandparent I’d known: my wonderful Granny, Peggy. She was fit, healthy and, at just a few weeks shy of 92 years old, had been living with Vascular Dementia for almost ten years.
When I was a little girl, Granny would pick me up from school. We’d go back to her house and she’d give me my dinner on my favourite Barbie plate while we watched Art Attack on television. She’d lift me up and we’d play in the garden during the summer holidays; we’d keep all the old cereal boxes and tins and pretend we were shopkeepers; in Autumn she’d take me to pick brambles down the lane near her house; and when we went shopping in Tesco, she’d break the rules and let me eat the grapes from the packet before we got to the checkout, always with a rebellious grin on her face.
A big change.
One day when I was in my very early teens, my mum told me that Granny’s memory wasn’t as good as it used to be. She explained that I might notice her behaviour change slightly, or she may ask me the same thing more than once within a short space of time. I can’t remember if I’d ever heard the word ‘dementia’ before that day – probably not. But it suddenly became something that I very quickly had to try and understand.
As the years went by, Granny’s memory did get worse. She would forget what she’d eaten for breakfast that day, or sometimes think the TV remote was the phone. But that was okay because, through all of that, she was still the same person. We still went on days out together, and talked about the incredibly adventurous life that she’d led. Above all else, we laughed: she certainly never lost her sense of humour! She is the most positive, upbeat person I have ever known and I am so grateful that we were such good friends.
Of course, dementia affects every family in a different way. I am pleased to say that I have just as many happy memories with my Granny in her later years as I do from before she was diagnosed. The Ally Bally Bee Project is a fantastic creation and will help children to continue creating magical memories with those close to them. This is a project very close to my heart, and I am honoured to be a part of it. Head over and create your very own personalised book now.