I was diagnosed with dementia a few years ago.
I’d been having a bit of trouble remembering things, but I just thought I was getting a bit more forgetful as I got older. Forgetting where I put my keys, trouble remembering the right word, missing appointments – things like that.
Then something happened that I’d never experienced before.
I was at the supermarket, doing my weekly shop. When I got to the checkout, the lad at the register told me how much I owed and I opened up my wallet and started counting out my money.
I tried to do the sums in my head to work out how much money I needed to handover, but I just couldn’t work it out. I was fumbling around with my money, going over and over it, feeling my face go bright red as the man at the checkout stared at me.
The line started getting bigger behind me and I could hear people muttering and feel their frustration and impatience.
I remember looking at my coins and trying to work out which one was a 50-cent piece, and I couldn’t. That scared me.
In the end I just had to give all my money to the checkout man and ask him to work it out. I was so embarrassed.
Shopping has got even harder for me recently. I find it so overwhelming – the bright lights, the music and noises, people rushing everywhere.
I get confused with the proper order of things. Am I supposed to get the milk first? When do I get out my wallet? Once I got out my wallet before I picked up the bread from the shelf, then left the wallet on the shelf.
Sometimes I’ll ask one of the workers to help me, but a lot of the time I can’t properly understand what they’re saying and I get even more confused. I can tell they get impatient dealing with me, even if they try not to show it.
It’s a horrible feeling that you can’t do a simple thing like grocery shopping without help. But the worst part is the looks you get, and how fed up everyone gets.
It makes me feel like a burden. So I stay away.
I think if people understood dementia more it would be better. There’d be less judgement, and people would be more patient.
I just need a bit more help than other people – it’s not my fault. If people understood this, I think things would be much better for me.