Updated: Feb 28, 2021
While I was writing It’s Raining in Moscow and I Forgot my Umbrella, one of my purposes was to create an awareness of dementia, so that young people wouldn’t find it such a scary topic. The old people in the book are seen though the accepting eyes of a child. Happily, grandparents are living longer and children are able to benefit from the wisdom of older people. Sadly it is inevitable that many grandparents will suffer from some form of dementia.
Research shows that one in 14 people over the age of 65 have dementia, and 1 in 6 people over 80. My story for children and young adults focuses on Billy, who lives on the dementia floor of a care home with his Gran who has Alzheimer’s. Frank is another resident at Autumn Days. His dementia isn’t as bad as some of the other residents, but this fabulous war veteran also has PTSD. His chances of developing dementia were twice as high as a person without PTSD.
Another sad statistic for those suffering from PTSD is that it appears to be common among people who have been hospitalised with coronavirus. (UCL, 2020)
But Frank is a positive character. As with all the old people in It’s Raining in Moscow and I Forgot my Umbrella, he demonstrates how the older generation can pass on their wisdom and relate their experiences in a way that no history book could ever do.
In this extract, Billy has asked Frank to help him with his history project about WW2:
“Aw Billy, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll make this the best blinkin’ project the school has ever seen! Get yourself a pen and I’ll start telling you some interesting facts about the war.”
“I don’t think fighting is a nice thing to talk about,” came Pascal’s voice from the other side of the room. “I think everybody should love one another,”
“Load of old tosh,” said Frank. “Come with me, Billy,"
Frank has a box in his room full of books, diaries, letters and even his mum’s ration books. He showed me his medals too, they were for bravery. They had funny haircuts back then and it made the men look much older than they really were. He told me he was twenty-one in one of the photos, but I thought he looked about fifty!
If you would like to read more about Frank, Billy and Gran, or if you know someone who has been affected by dementia, please consider looking at my book. It is an exciting tale with a positive message!
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