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Perspectives on the Person with Dementia and Family Caregiving in Ireland

Suzanne Cahill

This book is all about dementia in Ireland and what has and has not been happening in a country where dementia has been a taboo topic for so long. In particular it examines the dementia landscape since late 2014, following the launch of Ireland’s first National Dementia Strategy. A lot has happened in Ireland since that time but a lot more needs to happen for people to live well with dementia and have their human rights upheld. There are an estimated 55,000 Irish people living with dementia and these figures are set to triple by 2050. Although topics explored in the book,such as obtaining a diagnosis, accessing home care services and moving from home into a nursing home relate to Ireland, they are discussed against the backdrop of policy, practice and research developments in dementia in other parts of the world. In this way the book provides the reader with a wealth of information including research evidence, best practice guidelines and international expertise. The book has been dedicated to Mnánah Éireann, in recognition of the hard physical and emotional work, caregivers,mostly women do behind closed doors. Throughout the book, an appeal is made for more state support to be given to these formal and informal caregivers.

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CHAPTER 4 The journey to diagnosis and living with dementia: Still me


I have been asked to contribute to this book by telling my own personal story. The story starts some years back and I will tell it now as how I remember it.

In my early 40s I went through a spell of bad health. I was not working as I wanted to be at home with the guys (my two sons) until they started school. I mentioned to my GP that my recent memory was not as sharp as it had been. He explained that the brain is a muscle and it needs to be worked and challenged or it gets ‘flabby’. So, I started doing puzzles: I also did random night classes and learned cross stitch.

Life went on and got busy and we fostered children. The guys got more involved in various sports and hobbies. I wanted a career change and started studying. My Mom had a very rough year before she died of lung cancer and during that time, I often dropped the guys to school, drove to Dublin (I am originally from Dublin) spent a few hours with her and then drove back to Cashel in time to collect them. Sadly, my marriage ended after several years of dealing with alcoholism. During that time one of my son’s was dealing with some psychological issues.

My Dad was diagnosed with Vascular dementia and as time went on his visits to the house (he often spent weeks with us) were becoming difficult...

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