An inspiring mother-daughter duo- Gillian Evershed (left) and Jennie Kingdon (right) . Credits: Jennie's Facebook

Dementia is more common than you think. The NHS diagnosis rate in England for patients aged 65 and over was 64.6 per cent in December 2023 and it can severely impact the relationships within families – as one woman reveals.

Jennie Kingdon, 61, shares her mother’s journey for Race Against Dementia Day on 21 January in hopes of spreading awareness.

With her story out, she wishes for those who silently battle with this disease to feel seen and heard.

Jennie’s mother, Gillian Evershed, 84 was diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2018.

She said: “Mum started with confusion, losing her phone, forgetting appointments. She was good in spirits, even up to 5 years after diagnosis.

“Over the last year, the confusion has worsened and there is much sadness as she recognises that changes are taking place and that her brain ‘doesn’t work’.

“She is always anxious and doesn’t laugh anymore. And often asks me, ‘Where is Jennie?’. Her voice has changed and often talks about an imaginary person and I’m very concerned.” She added.

“It’s like someone flicked a switch. She feels like a completely different person today.”

Jennie Kingdon

She further admits that the loss of freedom has been the most difficult aspect of being a carer as her mother currently lives with her. She also had to quit her job as Gillian needs to be looked after 24/7. This has affected both Jennie and her husband’s lives as they are unable to travel at their leisure.

Jennie expressed: “It is important for carers to take some time out as looking after someone can be mentally exhausting. A thick skin helps, mine is slowly getting thicker!

“I also undertook specific dementia training from which I learned so much and the knowledge gained has been invaluable.” She added.

Jennie also mentioned her strong desire to take her mum on a short cruise, an idea which was strongly objected by her siblings who were simply concerned for Gillian’s welfare and all the excessive planning that would be needed.

Regardless, Jennie planned a short cruise for the two of them and stated: “I genuinely haven’t seen my mum look that happy. Yes, it was hard work. In addition to her dementia, Mum also has very poor mobility and is hard of hearing. But it was all worth it.

“I even made a little photo album so that we can look back on our time together and share wonderful memories.”

Jennie believes that dementia can run in families and emphasised that the person with dementia should keep as active as possible. Stimulate the mind as much as one can. She also recommended joining online groups to share experiences with people who are going through the same situation.

Kathy Gault from Alzheimer’s Society, a non-profit organisation said: ”There are different types of dementia- Alzheimer’s, Vascular, Lewy Body and Frontotemporal.

“There are no drug treatments that can cure the disease. However, there are medicines that can control symptoms in a patient. It is worth noting that these treatments will not stop the underlying disease in the brain.

“As a person’s dementia deteriorates, their need for support increases. Their behaviour tends to change drastically. While this can be hard to deal with, it’s important to approach with patience and care.” She added.

Race Against Dementia (RAD) is a non-profit organisation that raises money to fund research towards finding a cure for dementia.

Click the link below for further information:

https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/

statistics source: Dementia Statistics Hub.