A Join Dementia Research Champion from Yorkshire hopes that co-writing a new book will help to allay some of the fear and stigma which currently surrounds the condition.

Wendy Mitchell is the author of the widely-read blog Which Me Am I Today? which documents her life living with dementia since being diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s in 2014.

Now the 61-year-old is co-writing a book, Somebody I Used To Know, which will be released by publishers Bloomsbury in January 2018. Wendy has co-written the memoir with acclaimed ghost-writer Anna Wharton, co-author of three other books including Cut, by FGM campaigner Hibo Wardere.

“I used to be a very private person before I had dementia,” explained Wendy. “But when I was diagnosed I was so shocked and appalled at the lack of understanding and awareness that surrounds dementia that I’m now willing to shout from the rooftops at every opportunity that comes my way.”

Wendy is using email and text messages to communicate with Anna and share ideas as the book progresses.

Join Dementia Research Champion Wendy Mitchell

Join Dementia Research Champion Wendy Mitchell

Wendy continued: “I find it very difficult to use the phone now and I can type faster than I can speak so this arrangement is working well. I can type as though dementia never entered my life. I can type words quicker than I can think and speak them as that part of my brain appears to remain intact so far. So typing is one way I can feel normal.”

Wendy is keen to show through the book, that a diagnosis of dementia need not carry the stigma with which the condition is usually associated. As well as being a Join Dementia Research Champion and blogger, she is involved in a number of lay groups and steering committees and is regularly asked to speak at events all over the country.

Join Dementia Research Champions are a group of people from around the UK, with and without memory problems, who care about dementia research, and want to play a role in accelerating its progress. They have volunteered to raise awareness of the importance of clinical research and Join Dementia Research in their communities and at local events.

Wendy, a former NHS worker said: “My life is busier than when I worked. I call all the involvement in the things I do my ‘Sudoku’ – they all help keep my brain ticking over. If you don’t use it you lose it – even more so with dementia.”

Wendy knows the importance of keeping her brain active, as she explained: “I made the mistake of giving myself three weeks off over Christmas, thinking it would be good for me. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong. When I came to start typing again, I’d forgotten how; I’d forgotten what to do with the keyboard. So now I try not to stop doing things, because I know if I do, I’ll forget and may not be so lucky next time in being able to start again.”

Wendy is unequivocal about the importance of research in finding better treatments for dementia. She said: “The future can’t change without research. We all know there is no cure and without research there will continue to be no cure. However, more important for those of us already living with the condition is social and technological research. We have to find better ways to live and care for those no longer able to care for themselves.”

If you are interested in becoming a Join Dementia Research Champion you can read more about the role on the NIHR website and express an interest via the online form.