Lorraine Brown - Anything is possible!
I’m Lorraine aged 63. I am a mother to three daughters and a grandmother to a boy and a girl. In the summer of 2014, I was diagnosed with ‘young-onset Alzheimer’s disease’ by a neurologist at Medway Hospital. Tests and investigations took over three years to come to a conclusion. The tests consisted of MIR brain scans, cognitive testing and lumber punches.
I was then working in the Crisis Home Treatment Acute Mental Health Team at Medway Hospital, in Kent. I worked at Medway Hospital for over 24 years. Working in a busy and challenging role I believed I was experiencing stress due to work load and personal difficulties at home.
I work hard in Medway to educate people
I was devastated beyond belief being given the diagnosis of early on-set Alzheimer’s disease. I experienced a wide range of emotions and concerns. I am now retired due to ill health, not my decision but one made for me. I decided that I could either sink or swim, I chose swim!
Since that time I have joined a few local groups like my peer support group, local dementia café and MemoryBilia. MemoryBilia is a DEEP (Dementia Engagement and Empowerment Project) group for people living with dementia who like me want to make our communities dementia friendly and help reduce the stigma faced by people living with dementia. I am on a mission to educate people’s understanding of what living with Alzheimer’s is really all about.
I work hard in Medway to educate people about living with dementia. I am a volunteer trainer at Medway Hospital and I have spoken at many of Kent Police’s events. I am the chair of Medway Dementia Action Alliance, a group that are all working towards making Medway dementia friendly. I am a dedicated campaigner.
Last year Jeremy Hughes made me an ambassador for Alzheimer’s Society. Being an ambassador means to me that I have a voice, a voice to speak out and be heard. A voice for people like me that have dementia, a voice for people with dementia who no longer have a voice. A voice that stands for justice and equality to provide patience, understanding and a better environment for people living with dementia in their local areas.
Kent’s Volunteer of the year
On Thursday 16th March 2017 I was awarded Kent’s Volunteer of the year award at Kent Charity Awards. It was a real shock when Jane Page, Dementia Action Alliance Coordinator for the Alzheimer’s Society, told me she had nominated me. I was pleased she had the faith in me to put me forward but surprised. I did not realise I was a volunteer – I am a campaigner but I can see that I have to give my time and myself to this fight. It was very pleasing to think it was not my dementia that got me this nomination but my work, efforts and achievements.
When I found out I had been shortlisted as a I finalist I was so surprised but to be honest I felt a bit of a fraud, this is me doing what I want to do! I do not know when my dementia will take a turn for the worse so I have to keep doing my campaigning before my time runs out.
A tear was rolling down my cheek
The Kent Charity Awards Gala evening on the 16th March, was a fabulous occasion, we had a lovely meal. I was also very happy to meet Sangeeta from Meridian News who I watch every day and is a very nice lady. It all felt a bit surreal though. I listened to what was said about me and my fellow finalists and I thought ‘am I really in the same league as these people?’
When they read my name out as the winner I was stunned, I couldn’t not believe it. Walking up on the stage I felt like I was drunk. I could not believe this was happening, with two of my daughters watching. I must confess a tear was rolling down my cheek.
I really hope that this shows other people living with dementia that life does not end when dementia begins. Yes you have to adapt, this is your new world now, but if you live in the moment and make the most of it - anything is possible!