I’m an artist, working mostly with mosaics. I’ve recently moved into my own flat but it has been a long journey to get this far.
I was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease several years ago. I was living in Spain where I worked on a women’s project, re-building the town square.
I had terrible bouts of insomnia. I started to lose the sense of what was real and what was important. My boss thought I was taking drugs!
Things came to a head one day when I passed out on the building site. When I came round I was disorientated and confused and the confusion didn’t entirely go away.
I went to see a neurologist. Although I took a medical translator with me, I still couldn’t make sense of what I was being told. I had around 40 appointments in a 12 month period, from brain scans to sleep studies. I also started to lose my hair.
Getting a diagnosis
I still didn’t have a name for what was happening to me. I researched my symptoms online and suggested to my doctor it could be dementia. After a few more tests he agreed and said it was likely to be Alzheimer’s disease.
I was forgetting to eat or get dressed and I was struggling to look after my teenage daughter. I decided I needed more support so I came home to England to live with parents.
Daily life takes a lot of planning
I can achieve what I want to each day if I plan ahead. I have to work out how I’m going to do something, whether it’s walking along a particular path or visiting my brother in London.
Cooking can literally take all day as I have to eliminate the ingredients I don’t want, rather than picking out the ones I need.
With YoungDementia UK’s support I’ve recently moved into my own flat. It’s made an enormous difference to my life. Being 50-something is too old to be living with Mum and Dad!
I’ve started to sell my artwork at a local craft fair. I needed some help from my support worker to begin with but I feel confident enough now to do them on my own. It’s not always easy but I’m determined and focused.
- Jacqui lives in Oxfordshire and receives individual support from YoungDementia UK. She was first diagnosed with young onset Alzheimer's disease when she was 49, although that diagnosis has now been changed to subcortical vascular dementia.