Guest blog by Tommy Whitelaw – Dementia Carer Voices Project Engagement Lead, Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland.
For the last few weeks I have been trying to get healthier with morning and evening walks and runs. I say runs, but it’s mostly walking to be honest and I have to say I feel much better for it.
It has been a great way to clear my head before and after meetings, talks and take the time to think in a much clearer way. On my walks there have been memories that make me smile and a few that have brought some tears. It has taken me nearly 3 years since mum passed away to think more about me, who I am, who I was in many ways and to find the Thomas I was many years ago, as caring took its toll on all of who I am.
It has, I hope, made me a better person and I would not change caring for my mum for the world, she was my best friend and got me through the days and nights I struggled most. That’s amazing my mum, who was facing so much more than I could, changed the landscape of the day with a knowing smile or squeeze of my hand.
It almost feels strange to be part of the world that sits outside my door. That’s where the tears come from, we became so isolated from the lives we both knew the world was outside our door then as it is now but it felt so far away. As our opportunities shrunk to be part of things that had been part of us and our living space shrunk as mums health deteriorated the world outside stretched further out of reach. If we are truly going to support people to live and die well then we have to support people to reach the world outside our doors and bring the world outside in when we can no longer go on.
The national conversation asks what we need to create a healthier Scotland and talking about my experiences, and those of others in the same position, were what led to the creation of the Dementia Carer Voices project. If we really want to have a better life for people living with dementia their families and carers then we have to support them to reach that world outside their door and keep walking through their doors as we did before dementia came along. I feel so much better on my walks physically and mentally and every one of us has the right to be part of the world outside our doors and not be left with the isolation that comes their way to often.
A right to live well and absolutely a right to die well should be supported outside and inside our doors. So let’s take the time to find out what matters and who matters to people let’s take time to stop the world outside our doors slip further away each day.