You’ve forgotten where you put the keys, to eat lunch, now dinner. You wake up and don’t remember the person sharing your bed with you. You feel lost, alone, scared.

This is the reality millions of people face every day across the world and their loved ones have to watch them lose more and more pieces of themselves until they don’t recognise them either.

Dementia Action Week from May 15 to 21 is an awareness-raising campaign and the Hunter Centre in Haslemere has a full schedule to help individuals and their loved ones living with dementia.

Edith Daynes, 79, has been coming to the Hunter Centre for two years since her dementia diagnosis.

“It was a shock when I knew I had it, but I decided I was going to make the most of it,” said Edith. “Some people hid it, but why should you hide it? It is not your fault you got it. But a lot of people have shame around it.”

Edith Daynes at The Hunter Centre
Edith Daynes at The Hunter Centre (The Hunter Centre)

Edith met her husband, Terry, in Germany. He couldn’t speak a word of German and she couldn’t speak a word of English, but dance was a universal language. Terry pointed at himself, then Edith, then the dance floor and 60 years later, the pair are still living together in Haslemere. Edith knows Terry worries about her: “He is always behind me, watching. Coming to the Hunter Centre gives him time to do the things he needs to do.”

Kate Bradford, a trustee of the Hunter Centre, was shocked and devastated when both her parents were diagnosed with dementia. She saw first-hand how differently they responded to their diagnoses.

“My dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s first. He took himself to get tested, but it was different with my mum. I had to call the GP and ask them to run some tests. After she was diagnosed with vascular dementia we only spoke about it directly once. Mum feels health is an extremely private matter.

“Dad is on medication which has kept him stable for years, but mum declined rapidly. She is in a home now, which would have been unthinkable at Christmas. You just never know what is going to happen. Things change so quickly and there are so many different types of dementia and everyone responds differently.”

The Hunter Centre
The Hunter Centre (The Hunter Centre)

Kate has several recommendations for those caring for people with dementia: “Step back every now and then to take care of yourself. The care can become all-consuming which is not good for anyone. And take advantage of the groups and organisations, like the Hunter Centre, who are there to help every step of the way.”

The Hunter Centre has a full week planned for Dementia Action Week:

  • On Monday, May 13 during the Haslemere Charter Fair, a dementia bus will be at Haslemere High Street car park from 10am to 4.30pm. The simulator will give a brief insight into what a person with a dementia diagnosis might experience. Haslemere Museum will be open from 10.30am to 12.30pm for those living with dementia to visit and reminisce over their display of old toys and memorabilia.
  • On Tuesday, May 14, dementia information sessions will be provided at Marjorie Gray Hall, from 10.30am to 11.30am. From 12.30pm to 3.30pm there will be a mini carers’ fair.
  • On Wednesday, May 15, the Hunter Centre will have an open evening from 7pm which will include talks about the centre and the possible connection between strokes and dementia.
  • On Thursday, May 16, Grayshott Parish Council will be launching a new Kindness Cafe at the village square from 10am to midday.
  • On Sunday, May 19, the Hunter Centre will have a stall at the Grayshott village fete.

Dementia Action Week is an annual campaign run by the Alzheimer’s Society that brings people together from across the country under a unified theme to take action on dementia.