My grandfather was diagnosed five years ago at the age of 68.
My grandfather’s family physician originally explained his memory loss as simply old age. It was not until further pressure from my family that my grandfather decided to go see a memory loss specialist. We were taken aback to learn that it wasn’t old age, but a legitimate concern that my family and I needed to take extremely seriously.
I look up to my grandfather. Having lived with him for several years, I consider him very close to me. He would have done whatever that was needed in order to provide for me and my family. Of course we’d be willing to do the same for him! In this scenario, we knew that this was going to require a team effort.
It’s tough to see the impact that this disease has had, not only on my grandfather, but on my family as well. It’s been hard for us to see the toll dementia has taken on him. Though we didn’t realize the effects of dementia as we do now, we can deal with it through talking about it in a comfortable way. It is relieving to know that you’re not the only one facing this journey.
From this experience, I believe perceptions about living with dementia are getting better. Friends and family have been extremely supportive of my grandfather; they look at him the same way they did prior to this journey. We all realized that this was not a sprint but a marathon, and patience was going to be key. Thanks to this open mindedness and understanding, my grandfather has not had to face stigma as he otherwise might have had.
Last year, Liam became the 2017/2018 Youth Ambassador for the Alzheimer Society of Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington, helping launch the Liam Murray Remembers campaign in honour of his grandfather. As Youth Ambassador, Liam shares his own experience with the disease at education sessions, school visits and other Society activities in the hopes of raising awareness about dementia.
HERE ARE MY TIPS TO HELP YOU UNDERSTAND:
- It is possible for people living with dementia to live a happy and enjoyable life even when faced with this disease.
- Keep active. Integrate activities into their daily routine to not only keep their body active, but their mind as well.
- As a family, approach caregiving as a team effort. In most, if not all, scenarios, it is extremely difficult to take the challenge of caregiving on alone.
- Patience is a virtue. Understand that this is not their fault and simply be there for them.
- Don’t dwell on the negative. Remember and never forget who they are.