Wendy Mitchell

Wendy Mitchell

British woman with Alzheimer's disease
Country: Great Britain

Content:
  1. Wendy Mitchell: Living with Alzheimer's and Sharing Her Story
  2. A Diagnosis and Determination
  3. Strategies for Overcoming Difficulties
  4. Organized and Confident
  5. Loss and Support
  6. Leaving Comfort Behind
  7. Embracing Opportunities
  8. Conclusion

Wendy Mitchell: Living with Alzheimer's and Sharing Her Story

Wendy Mitchell, a 61-year-old British woman, is courageously traveling alone across the United Kingdom, sharing her experiences of living with Alzheimer's disease. In her book, 'Somebody I Used To Know,' Mitchell reveals the secrets of how she manages to stay ahead of the cunning dementia that threatens to destroy her memory every day.

Wendy Mitchell

A Diagnosis and Determination

Mitchell was devastated when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease at the age of 58. However, she remained determined to stay capable and independent. During one of her early meetings with a specialist, Mitchell heard about the "challenging behavior" exhibited by people with dementia. She quickly incorporated this information into her speeches, highlighting the ignorance and insensitivity of healthcare professionals who unknowingly upset those with the condition.

Wendy Mitchell

Strategies for Overcoming Difficulties

Living alone, Mitchell sometimes finds solace in not having someone constantly witnessing her memory failures. She has to develop and execute her own strategies for overcoming difficulties. Each morning, she engages in activities like Sudoku and online Scrabble on her iPad to keep her brain active. Mitchell explains, "I manage to travel and stay on the move because I simply have to. If I don't, I would be sitting at home, staring at my garden while my brain melts like ice cream."

Wendy Mitchell

Organized and Confident

To stay organized, Mitchell prints out instructions, writes emails, and compiles them all in a pink folder on her kitchen countertop. She includes train schedules, detailed directions, printouts of maps, and photos of buildings along the route she plans to take. Not only do these preparations prevent Mitchell from getting lost, but they also help her feel more confident in unfamiliar places she has already mentally explored.

Wendy Mitchell

Loss and Support

Since her diagnosis, Mitchell has experienced the loss of friends who have turned away from her. She has received fewer Christmas cards and birthday greetings. People she shared her life with no longer want to send a simple text message or email. However, for every person who has disappeared, there is someone who has remained by her side, offering sympathy, love, and practical advice. Mitchell cherishes these friendships and reassures her friends, saying, "Your secret is safe with me. I'll simply forget it by the time we leave the room."

Wendy Mitchell

Leaving Comfort Behind

Previously, Mitchell enjoyed the hustle and bustle of York, her favorite city. The constant noise of sirens and traffic used to be exhilarating. However, she now finds that when she steps outside, the noise assaults her ears and echoes within her brain. Mitchell discovered similar reactions from others who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, as if "the whole world suddenly turned up its volume overnight." This realization has led her to make the difficult decision to leave her beloved city.

Embracing Opportunities

In April 2017, Mitchell took her first glider flight, an experience that required her to watch a safety video. The instructor told her to make sure she remembered how to use the parachute in case of an emergency. Knowing she would forget, Mitchell played along in silence. As they soared higher and higher, leaving behind the yellow fields of rapeseed and townships that resembled villages, Mitchell contemplated whether she would remember this day and cherish every magical moment. She made a promise to herself that dementia would never steal those memories.

Conclusion

Wendy Mitchell's story serves as an inspiration to the 850,000 people in the UK and 36 million people worldwide who are affected by dementia. Additionally, it is estimated that another 28 million people are living with the disease without a diagnosis. Mitchell's determination to live life to the fullest despite her condition and her mission to raise awareness and understanding of Alzheimer's is a testament to her resilience and strength.

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