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The Leveson Centre for the study of Ageing, Spirituality and Social Policy

Sometimes dementia can mean freedom

In his column in the Church Times, the Revd Dr Giles Fraser, team rector of Putney, wrote about his Gran who has lived with dementia for some years. The following extract provides food for thought.

… in her care home she has persuaded fellow residents that she was once a nun … To complement her new identity she has found a remarkable silver lurex wraparound top …

Dementia has brought about an Indian summer of happiness in what has been a tough and often unhappy life. Those who suffer from dementia often lose their worries about what other people think of them … those who, like my Gran, have fought against a debilitating sense of social inferiority all their lives, are released from this dreadful burden. We hear a great deal about old people's homes being God's waiting rooms …

But for (Gran) it may be the place where she has finally come into her own … Only now as she looks after her fellow residents and starts to experiment with her wardrobe does she give some indication of the sort of person she might have been, had she been liberated from her demons. I wonder: could it be, for some of us, that it's only when our schemes have all gone foggy that we are released to be the people God really wants us to be?

Revd Dr Giles Fraser

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