We are proud to share James’ dementia journey with his Mum with all of you. James is the founder of Unforgettable and we are beyond excited to partner up with this fantastic shop, resource and support platform for people with dementia. I must say that I have hardly ever met someone who is as enthusiastic, full of energy and passionate about what he’s doing as James. He also made me wish I’d known Fay and David as they have raised inspirational and truly loving children.
Read about Fay’s and James’ dementia journey:
“I remember when my Mum picked me up from army camp one day. She started driving home on the wrong side of the road. She didn’t realise for at least 5 minutes until a car was coming our way.”
James was only 17 back then and he didn’t know much about dementia, except it was something older people got. His Mum Fay was only in her fifties after all.
Fay was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia in 2003. James’ father David wanted to protect her and the four kids and didn’t tell them about it. It wasn’t until 2006 when David suddenly passed away that James’ left his job, moved home and realized in what condition his Mum Fay was.
That day, 25 years old, James became a caregiver. He wasn’t prepared for what was coming but he luckily had his brother to help him. His brother Mark is a doctor and the two of them were not only practical but above all, emotional support for each other. “We started taking turns like parents would…” James said, adding that he doesn’t understand how someone can cope with a situation like this alone.
The lack of sleep is one of the things that were the hardest for James and his brother. “When you’re tired, everything feels difficult.”
He also remembers a lot of moments that were terrifying for him. When Fay started to wander, James’s always feared the worst when he didn’t know where he was. No matter if it was in a supermarket where she got lost or at home where James’ had forgotten to lock the front door, he was always worried.
Situations like this made him wish there were more support and maybe products that could help him and his Mum. “Products can help,” he said with full confidence. Useful products for him are for example highlights for the hallway or a door alarm. These support people in exactly these situations. The person who wanders at night is less likely to fall because the lights will go on, and the door alarm will go off if they try to leave the house.
When we do posts like this on our blog, I like to focus on the person rather than just focusing on dementia and how hard it can be. James had a lot of lovely things to say about his Mum.
“My Mum is my hero. She was an amazing person, a hero, to my siblings and me. She was incredibly generous and beautiful. She looked a bit like Princess Diana. She was a chef and raised money for the local hospice. One thing that I will never forget was how funny she always was. Her laugh was truly infectious.”
Fay must have been an amazing woman.
Her dementia journey also inspired James to found Unforgettable. He wanted to help people like himself find products that can make a real difference.
“I love getting feedback from our users. Some of them tell us that we changed their life. One person took her Mum back home from the care home saying that she finally feels like she can care for her at home.”
We are big fans of Unforgettable and are excited to have them as our partners.
Check out their site:www.unforgettable.org