Devon

Blogger Norman McNamara organises Dementia Awareness Day

Norman McNamara from Devon was diagnosed with dementia three years ago when he was just 50.

Although his father and grandmother had suffered from the condition, Mr McNamara did not expect it to be part of his future.

He said: It was never really in the back of my mind that I might get it.

"I think it came to a head when I set the kitchen on fire three times."

After his diagnosis, Mr McNamara, from Torquay, began blogging online about his experiences and during a phone call with a friend he had the idea of organising the first Dementia Awareness Day (DAD).

The event will be marked across the world on 17 September.

'Make a difference'

Mr McNamara's wife, Elaine, said: "I would take him to different places and he would say 'Oh this is nice we've never been here before' and we would have been dozens and dozens of times.

"Dementia is one of the biggest health crises in this country at the moment and we've got to try to understand it so we can deal with it."

Dementia is an umbrella term for degenerative illnesses which involve a decline of brain function, including Alzheimer's.

Symptoms of dementia can include loss of memory, speech, emotional control and mobility.

Dementia Awareness Day is being supported by the Alzheimer's Society and Dementia UK and events are being organised across the UK and in India, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Purple balloons will be released at different venues at 15:00 local time, each one marked with the name of someone who has died with dementia or is suffering from it.

Share experiences

A spokeswoman for Dementia UK said: "Norm's message has reached people all over the world which is testament to the fact that dementia is a growing concern for so many of us.

"We hope that this will encourage more and more people to speak out like Norms, share their experiences and help make a real difference to people's lives."

Mr McNamara, who used to manage a DIY store, said: "When I was first diagnosed I lost 70% of my friends because of the stigma that goes with it.

"I'm still me, I'm still Norms, I'm still the same person... it's not contagious," he said.

"I found myself isolated, I was worried I couldn't do anything with the children any more.

Mr McNamara said it was being asked to speak at a Dementia UK conference in 2010 which gave him the confidence to "carry on doing things."

He added that his hope for Dementia Awareness Day was to "open people's eyes".

"All I want to do is to educate people and to say I'm living with dementia, I'm not dying from it.

"I want to make a difference while I can."

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