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Just walk with me

People will know that my favourite book about dementia by someone with dementia is Robert Davis’ ‘My Journey into Alzheimer’s Disease’. I have said it often and will continue to say it. And the most powerful quote is:

‘Do not talk or try to understand me – the fussing makes it more difficult. Just walk with me’. (Something like that).

It is my favourite because it is quiet and humble – honest reflections of difficulties encountered and ways of coping and ways that do not help – which I recognise from patients seen over 50 years of sharing their lives.

Luke came to our health walk for the first time this week. Handsome, dapper in his peaked cap and smart jacket, matching trousers and clean boots. Every inch a gentleman – an easy and willing smile and communication of pleasure to be amongst and accepted as an equal by others. A shrewd comment when the words would allow it.

We walk for less than two miles, exploring local roads, paths and greenspaces. Just now the changes in the weather and the rush of blossoms provide entertainment in themselves – birdsong is their natural accompaniment. And doing this together adds another dimension.

My daughter tells me that all organisms communicate and support each other when they come together in groups – even trees – imagine that. Branching out: is communication possible between trees and people? | Science and nature books | The Guardian

How saddening it is to know that our generations have moved from the generous shared care of the post-war years to embrace a meaner, competitive, self-centred and destructive philosophy in which the rich are richer and we have a newly recognised large sector of poor people, including some older people. Inequality is at least as strong in old age as in the other times of life. Inequalities scoping review full report.pdf (

At the Walter Hall breakfast symposium this morning we heard Professor Pat Thane, now in her 80s, review the developments and decline in services and the standing of older people and those who care for them over the past 70 years – and she can place them in context with the decades and centuries before. It was sobering and inspiring.

Key is to treat everyone as equals – walking together we share strengths and find healing.

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