Always smiling as usual...

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Posted on by Norm McNamara

Diagnosed with young onset Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 50 Norman thought his world had come to an end. His condition deteriorated until he was hardly able to speak or walk. Now at the age of 53 Norrms as he like to be called, regularly addresses groups of people about his illness, has written 2 books which have been published and is an avid subscriber on facebook. He suggests that the turn around in his condition was due to medication called Ebixa, Norrms is Bolton born and bred but now lives in Torquay where he says the weather is better but he does miss the pies!

He has written prolifically about his illness giving carers and others an insight into how the disease affects people and how it impacts on carers and other family members. When he received his diagnosis he states he was absolutely devastated but intended to fight as long as he could. He equates dementia to a fully lit Christmas tree – as each light goes out a memory or a skill is lost never to return. He has known people have cancer and survive, brain tumours and survive but to date he knows of no one who has survived dementia.

Early in 2011 Norrms wrote a story about the night sky. Looking up at the stars he noticed how brightly the stars appeared that night. He realised that the darker the sky the brighter the stars shone. He related this observation to his own Alzheimer’s and considered that each star represented a light of hope for each person touched by dementia and the hope that one day a cure would come. Norrms decided it was time to ensure that the
whole country was made aware of dementia and the epidemic that was soon to hit. He started making plans for a Dementia awareness day to coincide with his 54th birthday on September 17th. Using the star as inspiration the event has reached international proportions with Europe and America also taking part. Now over 15000 people have voiced their support.


Norrms is certainly a Boltonian to be proud of. So whats happening in Bolton?

The event will start with a display of information and advice in the market place on 17th September sponsored by Bolton LiNKS. Where it is also hoped that a choir of people with dementia and their carers will entertain the crowds. There will also be a display at the Reebok before Bolton’s match against Norwich City followed by a symbolic release of a star shaped balloon on the pitch before the match. On Sunday 18th September all the churches in Bolton have been asked to light a candle and to pray for all those affected by dementia.


We are fortunate in Bolton to have excellent services to support people living with dementia and their carers such as Firwood Centre and voluntary agencies such as The Dementia Support Group, Young Onset Group Associates (YOGA), Crossroads, The Dementia Support Group started over 11 years ago and became a registered charity in 2008 it is comprised of present and former carers several of whom undertook further qualification in dementia studies at university. The Group has weekly support sessions for carers which runs alongside an activity session for the person being cared for, a weekly activity afternoon where we have indoor bowling a traditional wooden skittle alley, table top games and a Nintendo Wii together with an excellent café. In September the Group is taking the first step to provide a borough wide service by starting a similar service for the people in Horwich and surrounding areas at the Horwich Resource Centre where there will be an Open Day on 12th September. For anyone who would like to find out more please come along because “together we can make a difference”

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One Response to Always smiling as usual

  1. Norm Mitchell says:

    I’m also a Norm and by coincidence I also have early-onset dementia; since I was 48. The disease is awful. It may help us both to know there is another Norm out there who understands what this “thing” is like. It’s nice to know we are not alone; that there is someone who understands what this “thing” is like. My best to you, Norm. God bless and keep you. May His face shine upon you and give you peace. When His face seems hidden, I and others are here to be your friend. Norm

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