Living With Dementia

Author Christine Bryden’s journey of living with dementia begins when she receives a diagnosis for Alzheimer’s at the age of 46.

| September 2012

Christine Bryden was forty-six years old when she was diagnosed with dementia. Who Will I Be When I Die? (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2012) is a written account of her emotional, physical and spiritual journey in the three years immediately following. While offering first-hand insights into how it feels to gradually lose the ability to undertake tasks most people take for granted, this account of living with dementia is told with positivity, strength and the deep sense that life continues to have purpose and meaning. The following excerpt is taken from Chapter 1, “I’m too young!” 

The neurologist with his back towards me, looking at my scans, said, ‘Your brain is like that of a much older person, showing signs of marked atrophy, particularly at the front. It’s consistent with Alzheimer’s.’

He looked away from the scans for a moment, and then said, ‘You shouldn’t be in any responsible position. You must retire as soon as possible.’

I felt as if time had stood still — surely this wasn’t happening to me. I had to rush away in a minute and chair a meeting back at work, and I had moved house over the weekend and was still unpacking and sorting out.

I must have misheard — he was mistaken — the scans maybe had got mixed up with someone else’s… ‘You’re joking — I’m too young to get Alzheimer’s!’

I was only forty-six — old by my daughters’ reckoning, but surely far too young to get an old people’s disease like Alzheimer’s. Any rate, I wasn’t forgetful, just stressed out — with migraines and getting a little confused every now and then — taking the wrong turn a few times surely didn’t mean I was getting senile!