My guest on this week’s Well I Know Now podcast is the chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, Kate Lee.
As well as being a CEO, Kate’s a wife, mother and daughter. Her 80-year-old mum’s vascular dementia is now so advanced that she lives in a nursing home and can’t talk; the only way Barbara can show her daughter that she loves her is to hold her hand. At the moment, of course, along with thousands of others, these two can’t hold hands, or meet, or hug or be together in any meaningful way, at all.
A few weeks ago Barbara’s husband of almost 60 years was persuaded to go and visit her so that he could wave through a window. I saw a short video of this on Twitter and was very moved – the accompanying tweet from Kate said, “On a freezing morning, with our backs to the wind, we waved and shouted to mum through a window”.
So it’s quite obvious that the woman heading up the Alzheimer’s Society brings a very personal perspective to her new role. Since taking up her post just a few days before the country went into its first Covid lockdown in March, she’s not been afraid to talk about what she and her family are going through in the national media and social media.
We talked a lot about her own family’s story, about the challenges of being both the daughter of someone living with dementia and the CEO of the UK’s biggest, most influential organisation in the dementia sector, about the realities of the condition (which aren’t always quite as they’re portrayed in the movies), about the tricky role of a close relative who lives some distance from his or her loved one and isn’t a primary carer but wants to help.
And of course we talked about how the Alzheimer’s Society has responded to the coronavirus pandemic, particularly the vexed issue of care home visiting, and her vision for the organisation’s post-Covid future.
Visit the Alzheimer’s Society online here: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/