The medallion was awarded to Agnes to mark the successful completion of her overseas research as a Churchill Fellow. For her Fellowship, Agnes travelled to Canada and Ireland to investigate best practice relating to dementia and sensory challenges. Using the experience of my Fellowship, my guidebook sets out what we can do about these challenges and where we can go for help. I feel that I am leaving a legacy for others, so they can stand up and be a citizen and not a victim. The Fellowships were set up in memory of Sir Winston Churchill on his death in , and over 5, Fellowships have been awarded since then. Agnes Houston was diagnosed with younger onset dementia in at the age of She is an active member of the Scottish Dementia Working Group.
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Did you have any idea that your problems might be due to dementia?
Talking Sense is the culmination of more than a decade of research by Agnes Houston after she was diagnosed with younger onset dementia in She found that not only was there little support for continued independence, but what support there was had virtually no awareness of the common experience of sensory change. Surely, I was not the only one having these sensory changes? Ms Houston is known internationally as an advocate for people living with dementia and in , she completed a Churchill Fellowship to continue her learning about the often overlooked issue of sensory challenges. I hope that care homes and home care partners will recognise when people with dementia have a support need related to sensory issues.
Agnes Houston shares how her dementia diagnosis disrupted her sensory experience
Diagnosed with early age, early onset dementia at the age of 57, Agnes Houston had to adapt to cognitive and sensory challenges — and cope with a social lack of knowledge and understanding around the condition. We talked to her about her experience, from diagnosis to her pioneering activism and research into sensory issues in dementia that has challenged stigma and given valuable and much-needed information to those living with the disease. Twelve years ago, at the age of 57, I was diagnosed with early age dementia. The doctor I worked for thought it might be down to the menopause or stress because my dad had dementia. How can I make my life easier? It was all about strategy until eventually, things got so bad that my boss suggested I get a brain scan. I never had a clue that it might be dementia — and I was looking after my dad with dementia at the time. My best friend also said she had been worried, that I had been repeating phonecalls to her and so on.
Julie Christie. Here, Houston explains how sensory changes can confuse and overwhelm people living with dementia, often affecting their ability to socialize and enjoy life. Crossing the road is a challenge, for example. These experiences were making me isolate myself and I was losing connection to family gatherings, coffee times with my gym buddies, and my ties to my neighbourhood and local community. What are some adjustments that are related specifically to these sensory issues? A I use adaptations and aids. I also got noise-cancellation headphones, which help with conversations. For sensory changes related to taste and [resulting] food likes and dislikes, I keep a food diary.