A journey of acceptance

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BLESSED: Glenys Nicol reads her stories about getting dementia in a recently published Rural Women New Zealand book of short stories.
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When Glenys Nicol of Ashburton was told three years ago she had early-stage dementia, she was shocked.

But today the 74-year-old accepts the diagnosis, and does everything she can to keep her mind active.

She has shared her experience by penning two stories, called Crazy, and A Journey. They have recently been published in a Rural Women New Zealand book of short stories.

‘‘Wow! Join me in the wonderful world of dementia!’’ is how she starts Crazy. She goes on to describe the joys of her life at the time, including going to Elizabeth Street Day Centre, feeding the birds in her Tinwald townhouse garden, and spending time with husband Kevin.

In A Journey, she describes her emotional journey of diagnosis and acceptance.

She said this began when she found herself panicking as she planned her and Kevin’s 50th wedding anniversary in 2021.

‘‘My brain was in overdrive and my husband took me to the doctor, worried. After several tests it was revealed to our family, I was in the early stages of dementia. Who me? Couldn’t be! No other members of my family had suffered this,’’ she wrote.

She was prescribed ‘‘a small tablet’’ to take each morning, which helped her memory. Kevin passed away in 2022, and today Glenys lives at Radius Millstream resthome, which she praises in A Journey. ‘‘Great friends, fantastic carers all looking after my needs.’’ She wrote about both the hardship of having dementia, and the happiness she had in her life.

‘‘My family have been terrific in making me enjoy life. Not easy to watch their mum and nana change from what she used to be.

‘‘I do miss baking for family and friends. Made some dreadful mistakes so I just enjoy eating it.

‘‘I’m still coming to terms with it, and now I paint which I enjoy. Try to sing and dance. Enjoy knitting and crafts and going on bus trips around my town and beautiful county of Ashburton.’’

Glenys told The Ashburton Courier she also liked conversation and playing games at the rest-home.

She particularly enjoyed telling jokes, and seemed to have no trouble remembering these.

She said it was mostly her short term memory which was affected.

‘‘Last night I couldn’t even tell you what I had for tea, and that’s silly, but that’s what dementia does,’’ she said.

‘‘I’m okay with it, it’s just part of life, and you have to accept it. It’s not the end of the world to get dementia.’’