Following on from last weeks A Good Life with Dementia course, I emailed Damian Murphy and he said we were welcome to come along the following weeks.

This time however was different. Last week we both got so much from being there, with our peers who had shared their experiences as the person with dementia and the spouses of the person with dementia that we took the decision that I should try making the journey alone this time. I think that Sheila being able to listen and talk to people about their experiences, reassured her that maybe for a time at least I might be able to make the journey alone

Thanks to Wendy Mitchell, we found out about a phone app that my wife could track me on, which my Grandson Lucas thought was great fun being able to track my journey while he was on his way to school. In addition I wouldn’t have to walk any where as I could get taxis to and from the station and thanks to Damian for the lift back to the station in York.

We started off discussing perceptions of dementia You Don’t Look Like You Have Dementia being a common one, media images and the effect these have on peoples perceptions. We discussed the language used about dementia Suffering being one commonly used by the media, today there were people at different stages of their Dementia journey, none of us felt we were suffering, if we had other diseases we would be Brave or Fighters etc, we are living as well as we can with Dementia

We talked about Dementia friendly places, how you can go into one shop and the assistant will point in the general direction of the item you want but go into another and they will take you to where the item is and if need be they would go in the back or order it for you. As Damian said Dementia-Friendly is just good customer service

We then spoke about support in the workplace, I mentioned that I had great support from the Hospital where I worked and my colleagues that enabled me to carry on working for a while but another person working in a charity shop wasn’t so lucky.

After a short break, coffee and more Liquorice Allsorts, sorry Wendy there were none left for you, perhaps Billy has some hidden away. We were introduced to Alastair Jordan from York St Johns University who gave us a lot of information on the benefits of exercise and he took us through our paces with a 6 minute walk test and checking our balance among others. Alastair also talked about the ‘Active Life Active Mind’ sessions that the University runs in York which are free activity sessions tailored to the individual persons needs.

Alastair also talked about a research project that he is involved with at the University, which I have agreed to take part in, looking at how people with and without a diagnosis of Dementia walk to better design aids and services for mobility.

It was good to have someone talk about the benefits of research. Most research may not benefit my generation because of the time it takes to get to new treatments, but it is a legacy we can all leave for future generations

At the end, Damian gave me a lift back to the station. It wasn’t an easy journey to and from York, the noise in the station and on the trains was challenging and if I had had to walk further than the taxi rank on my own I would have got lost. I know that it may be something I can do only for a short time but it gave me a sense of achievement.

Next week Damian has organised a Market Place in the Church hall for different groups and services in the York area.

Damian Murphy has written a more detailed accounts of Tuesdays session