You can lose your memory But you never forget how to love
In The Forgotten Guide to Happiness, is dementia as easy as Lana makes it seem? The character of Nancy is loosely based on my mother who has always been lively, caring, the centre of attention and in a position of authority as a teacher and lecturer. We don't know when dementia began to affect her - she started being negative and obsessing about a bad job some builders had done on her house in 2003. She began to get quite aggressive if she was startled. She hated loud noises. She couldn't choose meals from a menu. It was nothing big, nothing major. By 2006 she was getting forgetful, and she went to a memory clinic. Her GP told her she had Alzheimer's. She didn't seem particularly upset, but she flatly refused treatment. It affected her slowly, so slowly that we adapted to it, got used to it, made excuses when she threw a stick at a girl who ignored her in the park. I first got in touch with The Alzheimer's Society when social services suggested she went into a residential home. We spoke for a long time and I expected them to agree with me that she was not that bad, but they didn't. It helped, being able to talk. We're a few years further on now. She is in a home, and she's popular and she is still in a position of authority - she regularly checks the visitor's book for bad handwriting. We see her illness differently now. It once seemed like the worst nightmare, but now we have accepted it as a new stage in her life. And that makes it easier. Through her, we have realised that life continues to be valuable, that happiness gives life meaning, and love endures.