Dementia in a time of plague

It’s lock down time.

Lock up your daughters, and your sons. Your wife and your husband. Your mum and dad.

Lock down yourself.

Turn the radio off if you want to keep sane amidst madness. Or at least the news.

Does it matter much which day of the week it is?

(Anyway, who decided we should have a seven day week? Why not a seventeen day week?

Why not 7 months of 52 days each? With a requirement to rest every fourth day?

I have taken off my watch. Yes, I still have time on my iphone, but it does liberate a little.

I’m not enjoying reading the Guardian as much, since it is stuffed with Big V stuff. I must look harder for the other things of life.

ZOOM is taking off big time.

I even got an NHS Trust using it because the staff working from home couldn’t get the official webinar thing to work for them. They love ZOOM now. As do my family.

And I can mute them when they say things I don’t want to hear, if I’m quick enough.

I have got over my initial shock and discombobulation that was last week. It will return from time to time, but I am getting used to new routines, or lack of routines.

And I have today carved my third (working) whistle. Not an expert yet, but one day…

I will soon have to move on to something a bit more demanding, which is frightening, as I have very little pictorial artistic imagination. So patterns are good; snake heads pretty much impossible.

I had wobbles on a couple of DEEP ZOOM meetings this week. Everyone was talking about all the great ideas they have to keep people in contact, running singing online sessions, or, for god’s sake, radio shows! While I feel…actually, I don’t think I have the resilience to do that.

Oh yes, I am running a weekly ZOOM meeting for DEEP groups on Shropshire, or anyone else with dementia who wants to join. Publicised it on local radio this morning. But as I said in a meeting, you can have too much webinaring. Staring at the screen, with uncertain sound and transmission delays. It is great, but we have got to keep sane in this time of Big V.

I am blessed to have a huge garden, and lanes and fields to walk around.

I am blessed to have my younger son and daughter-in-law living eight miles away, and driving collection errands for us.

I am blessed to be able to grow plants and vegetables, to sit out in the sun, to hear the birds as they grow in confidence this spring.

And I am blessed to be able to forget the whole damn Big V thing if I choose to.

Cos I don’t see anyone!

It is so quiet. Extraordinarily quiet.


So I put together a few simple suggestions for people living with dementia and their families during this time of plague. These are pretty much based on things I have heard in recent ZOOM meetings.

Keep exercising your faculties. Keep speaking, even though there may be no one to listen. Read a book aloud. I suggested to one lovely woman she should read Wordsworth’s The Prelude, since she loves the Lake District. (You know who!) And why not record sections and send them to friends. It’s good to have a reason.

Send them to me. I’d rather listen than read it all.

Write real letters, by hand. Good motor control and you probably think more as you write.

I am going to write a letter to my children, just in case…put it in the safe.

Play cards, the old games like snap and rummy. Play dominoes.


Learn a new skill. Mine is carving wood that I find on my walks. But you could learn to recognise bird songs. Or about law. Or how to sail a boat. Or the latin names of the plants you see on your walks and in your garden.

Do the quick crosswords (if you can stand the torture).

Take a virtual tour of art galleries and museums.

Just for fun.

Just for fun. Isn’t it nice to remember those words…just for fun.


Now it’s time for another walk with Lupin.

I am reminded of a little snippet from Dostoyevsky’s The Brother Karamazov, which I think I got through in my early twenties. A leading character, one of the brothers, says one day:

“Gentlemen, I have had a good dream.”

Today is a good day for me. It’s sumptuously sunny, and gloriously grand.

Come on, Lupin. Enjoy it while it lasts.

4 thoughts on “Dementia in a time of plague

  1. Great stuff George, yes i think keeping busy is as good a statement as any, I have been a couch potato for a little while now, must snap out of it before i am on the moped to oblivion. I have never read any Dostoyevsky but he was certainly one of Henry Millers favourites. I have read everything by Miller, I think it was Tropic of cancer when he proclaimed the world is just a name for an abstract idea, I truly understand that phrase now………..keep writing old chap, I always enjoy your stories. Now, I am leaving my couch behind and going for a walk in the sunshine, sod it!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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