“What are you doing for Christmas?”
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been asked that question. Last Sunday, at a lunchtime party, I had a similar conversation with more than a dozen people. My answer is simple. Christmas Day this year will be the same as it’s been for the last four or five. After breakfast, I’ll travel the 40 or so miles to see Mum. I’ll persuade her to open her present or, more likely, I’ll open it for her. We’ll sing a carol or two, laugh and then I’ll head home. For Mum, Christmas Day will be much the same as the 358 which have preceded it this year.
It’s the same story for many of the 800 thousand plus people living with dementia in the UK. And it’s the same story for the 600 thousand plus carers who look after them. I make no apology for firing out those statistics. It’s worth remembering how many people are directly affected by dementia.
I’ve been fortunate to meet many carers – sometimes husbands, sometimes wives, daughters or sons. Their devotion is often inspirational, their patience seemingly inexhaustible.
What are they doing for Christmas? The same as they do for the rest of the year. They’re coping.