Nicola sets up family fun evening and dementia café in memory of parents
A Long Stratton woman has told of her struggle to cope with her parent's dementia and of her upcoming mission to bring together the community over the illness.
Nicola King's father, George Flaherty, had Alzheimers, while her mother, Annie, had vascular dementia. They died within the space of three years.
"It was a real struggle to get the right care for them," explained Mrs King, 51.
"Despite all the amazing support from family and friends, I felt so alone. I was unable to access the right support and information.
"You can't prepare for something like this. I couldn't believe they both had it.
"It was a shock because me and my brother had such an idyllic upbringing."
Mrs King said juggling her work life, a slow diagnosis of her parent's conditions and troubles with care homes opened her eyes to problems with current services.
"There just isn't the same amount of support and understanding, like with some other illnesses," she said.
"It was a rocky journey. We had no plan in the beginning and, when we needed it most, there was no help, no advice and very little professional support. I felt broken by the end.
"My mum was still my mum, even if she didn't remember my name. Recognition isn't just a name, it's a touch, a feeling, even a look. She could never really forget who I was."
Mrs King's situation improved when she was introduced to dementia Services at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, which helped care for her mother in her final days.
"They were wonderful - it changed everything," added Mrs King.
"I realised, as a charity, there needed to be more money for Dementia Services, as well as better support and information, so people don't have to have the experience I had."
Together with her husband, Andrew, 52, Mrs King has set up a family charity fun evening, called Celebrating Annie, at the The SugarBeat Eating House in Swainsthrope.
Running on Friday, August 24, between 4pm and 10pm, the event will feature live music from West End Jerseys and Take This - tribute bands of the Four Seasons and Take That.
"My mum loved their music and it was playing before she passed away," explained Mrs King.
"This event will be joyful and help to unite the community so we start to tackle dementia, as it's an ever-growing problem and will be in support of Dementia Services.
"I am amazed at the reaction we have received so fa,r to both our story and ideas to help those who have dementia and those looking after them.
"There are a lot of people and families out there who are desperate for some kind of support - even if it's just someone to talk to. I think we have hit on something quite big."
The pair are also looking to start up their own mobile dementia café, with plans to visit various towns and villages in south Norfolk.
To buy tickets, or get involved with the planned dementia café, contact Mrs King on 07747 536537.
Tickets can also be purchased from SugarBeat.