Hello there and Welcome to Don’t Forget Me’s Personal Experience page!
I am James Sweeney, see picture below, and I am the Founder and Owner of the Page. I’ve made this page as a way of sharing my own experience with Alzheimer’s, as well as talking about how it has affected my life.
So, I thought we’d start with a little bit about me.
I am James Sweeney and I am originally from Swansea. I am currently a student at the University of Reading, studying a BSc in Management with Information Technology.
I made Don’t Forget Me, firstly for a project in my HNC, as mentioned in the About Us page, but also as a way of remembering my grandmother. My Grandmother has Alzheimer’s and I have witnessed watching one of the people I was cloest too, fade away before my eyes.
I am not going to lie to you, Alzheimer’s was something that I found very hard to deal with at first, but is something that I have learned a lot about over time and have learned how to accept it. To be fully honest, Alzheimer’s does not care whether you accept it or not, it just makes it harder if you do not.
My experience with Alzheimer’s:
My Grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s back in 2014, although we suspect that it may have started developing for a number of years, before the diagnosis. It came as a shock and a worrying aspect of our lives when we were told, but it was not something that we didn’t see coming, seeing it firsthand though does hurt.
When I first found out, I did what any person would do, I googled Alzheimer’s. As anybody with a health condition can ell you, running straight to google to search for more information is not the best course of action, especially after discovering that somebody such as your Grandmother has Alzheimer’s.
After reading all of the web results on Google, it is safe to say that I was pretty shook. I couldn’t believe what I was reading and prayed that it would not be true, but alas, it was just the beginning.
My Grandmother’s condition started to deteriorate as time went on. The first thing to go was the most recent memories, which is a common trend with Alzheimer’s and then she started to forget more and more. What started as forgetting what happened over the past day, developed into the last week and then the last year, so on.
At the start of my Nana’s Alzheimer’s I felt a strange feeling of Anger. I wasn’t angry at my Nana, I mean how could I? It was hardly her fault, she was the victim to her, although it is something that she would not understand. I was more angry at Alzheimer’s, for choosing my Grandmother.
Me and my Grandmother have always been very close, and it is something that I will remember for the rest of my life. We used to go to the beach, me, my brother and my grandparents and used to have a great time. As time went on, me and my grandmother would go on walks during the week and she would be my grandparent and counselor all in one, listening to my problems and helping me solve them.
The story however, is not one full of rainbows and smiles however. As that happens with the disease, her Alzheimer’s continued to deteriorate and my Grandmother continued to turn into a shell of what she once was. Her memory continued to fade as time went on and then she started forgetting who we were, her family.
The first time my Nana forgot who I was will stick with me for the rest of my life. It is an experience that I can to the exact details. I can remember when it was, the day, what I did before and what I did after. It was a very emotional time for me, but is one that everyone faces due to the cruelty that is Alzheimer’s.
Nana’s Alzheimer’s continued to deteriorate going forward. It got to the point where she would go missing nearly every day, causing a great deal of stress for my family. One of the most worrying developments of the disease was when my Grandmother stated to experience the effects of Sundowning.
It got to the point where we simply could not cope anymore. We had tried everything and nothing had seemed to work. We were spending all of our time either looking for mt Grandmother when she went missing or wondering if she was doing alright, at home with my Grandfather.
In 2019, my Nana went into care and that is where she is to this day. The care home that she is in do an absolutely incredible job looking after her and have been a great ease on all of our minds. It is very sad still when we visit her and see that she is more so just a shell of what she once was, but there are still sparks of the old Nana every now and then.
We visit my Grandmother in the home as much as we can and always try and make the most of the time that we have left. If Alzheimer’s has taught me anything, it is to live every moment of your life, you never now when they may run out or you start to forget them.
As is the saying for this page, I wanted to finish on one last statement: Find the “Me” in Meaning! Be yourself, live your life and do the best that you can!