When people first meet Wendy Mitchell, or read her book or her blog, or hear her being interviewed, they sometimes find it hard to believe that she has dementia.
She travels around England speaking, attending meetings and visiting friends. Traveling alone, in a densely populated country with a robust public transportation system that is heavily used and often crowded — how does a person with dementia manage?
Hours of preparation go into each trip. So much goes on behind the scenes, she says.
She’s invited to speak at a conference in Birmingham. The date is months away but the preparations begin immediately. She goes online and finds an image of the hotel where she’ll be staying, then one of the venue where she will be speaking. She checks the route and prints off photos of landmarks on the way. She puts them in a file to take with her when she makes the trip.
On the morning of the trip she waits for the cab that will take her to the train station. If it’s a few minutes late, she becomes anxious and calls the cab office but that’s OK. They know her and know she has dementia and she brings them cookies. She would like those to be homemade cookies because she once loved to bake. However, she lost that ability to dementia, just as she’s lost the ability to run and to drive her car.