A MOTHER and daughter have taken the brave decision to talk about living with dementia in the hope of helping others.
Ann Ferguson, 73, with the support of her daughter Liz Easdale, decided that Dementia Awareness Week was the time to show others that you can still enjoy life and live well despite the condition.
The pair now live next door to each other after Mrs Ferguson made a bold step to leave the family home of more than 35 years in Doncaster and move 120 miles to live in South Shields.
Mrs Easdale, 54 said: “We literally couldn’t be any closer now. The move has given mum a new start since being diagnosed with dementia in March 2011.
“We fully support the dementia awareness campaign, which is why we decided to talk openly about my mum’s condition.”
South Tyneside Council is supporting the new Dementia Friends campaign to help people develop an understanding of the condition and help people living with it.
“I feel like I’ve been given a new lease of life after moving to South Shields,” said Mrs Ferguson. “I feel really supported here and I’m getting out and about meeting people, which is lovely.”
Mrs Easdale said her mother had been spending a lot of time in her house in Doncaster caring for her husband Joe, who died last year.
She said: “After my stepdad died, my mum was living on her own and didn’t go out. She was becoming more confused and her dementia seemed to be getting worse.
“I talked with the family about her moving to South Shields so she could be near me and then, by chance, the house next door became available.”
The pair contacted Liz Williams, a dementia support worker from South Tyneside’s branch of the Alzheimer’s Society, and now regularly visit their local Dementia Cafe to meet with others who are experiencing memory loss.
Ms Williams said: “Ann is testament to how well a person can live with dementia. They are a dynamic pair and Ann has a very active social life, which is important for someone with dementia.
“It’s great that they are willing to talk openly about Ann’s dementia and support the campaign and Dementia Awareness Week.”
Liz Williams recently provided dementia training to South Tyneside’s Health and Wellbeing Board as well as local council teams to raise awareness of the condition.
Coun Fay Cunningham, lead member for health and wellbeing at South Tyneside Council, said: “The training is very beneficial and it’s the council’s intention that we become a dementia-friendly borough. Ann is an inspiration to us all and is determined to get the most out of life and carry on living with dementia.”
The theme of The Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Awareness Week, which ran last week, was Don’t Bottle It Up.
There are thought to be about 2,100 people living with dementia in South Tyneside but diagnosis rates are among the highest in the country.
For more information on Alzheimer’s Society services in South Tyneside, call 427 5443 and for details on the campaign and how to become a Dementia Friend, visit www.dementiafriends.org.uk