Belfast Telegraph

#STILLME: Frances talks about receiving her dementia diagnosis and how she’s still living an active life

The campaign #STILLME aims to raise awareness of the signs of dementia and reduce stigma and fear about the condition

The #STILLME campaign features local people living with a dementia.

Frances Cousley would encourage anyone worried about dementia symptoms to get help early.

Frances, who is aged 74 and from Ballymena, talks about her diagnosis of frontal lobe dementia.

While Frances was anxious when she first received her diagnosis, her advice is to not to ignore the possible signs: “My daughter noticed a few changes in my behaviour. After I had an operation, my symptoms became more noticeable. I was referred to the memory clinic for tests which included a CT and MRI scan. Soon after, I was diagnosed with frontal lobe dementia.”

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However, her diagnosis certainly doesn't stop Frances living an active life.

“I don’t dwell on my diagnosis too much. I get on with life, there is certainly more to life than moping around! I love getting out and about. "

I have to take an annual test to ensure that I can drive safely on the roads. But it’s worth it as this allows me the independence to visit family, go shopping and socialise. I want to show other people that there is life after a dementia diagnosis. I am living proof of that! Frances, 74, from Ballymena

Frances added: “I want people to know that leading an active life is much better than staying still. If you’re sitting around all day doing nothing, all you can do is ponder your diagnosis.”

Getting the right help and support was key for Frances, who says:  “If you think you may have dementia, go and find out about it, get the right help and support so you can carry on with your life. I know my opinion still counts and is still used in helping others with the groups I’m involved in such as Inner Wheel and Dementia NI.”

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Eleanor Ross, Nurse Consultant at Public Health Agency (PHA), said: “Dementia can happen to anyone and sadly there is no cure. People with dementia may feel isolated and alone. People can also find it difficult to talk about it when they think that they, or someone close to them, may have a dementia.

“With an ageing population, dementia is becoming a bigger issue for society, so it’s important that we look at how we can raise awareness about the condition and consider how we as a community respond to it.”

We believe that life doesn't end when dementia begins, and would encourage people to open up about worries they might have about their memory and seek help as soon as possible. Eleanor Ross, PHA

She added: “By talking openly about dementia and its impact on daily life, people with dementia, family members and carers can begin to access the practical help and support available. Timely diagnosis allows people to receive treatment and care to enable them to live independent and fulfilling lives. Early diagnosis and support also enable people to plan for the future and to make their own decisions about their care.”

Seamus McErlean, Commissioning Lead for Older People and Adult Services at the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB), said: “Often people are reluctant to seek help with memory problems as they feel that nothing can be done. However, recent investments in dementia services, as part of the Delivering Social Change Programme, are making improvements to the care and support that people with dementia and their carers can expect to receive.”

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