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Judy Mansfield on reinventing her life over 50 and becoming a Dementia Champion!


Judy Mansfield imageArticle by Ceri Wheeldon

Judy’s first major reinvention came in her early 40s when she left the safety of her job in the Civil Service to and live with her husband in a cottage in France. Taking a sabbatical ( to recover from a period of ill health)  it had been her intention to return to her job 2 years later, but it only took her a couple of months to realise that going back was not for her.  When a chance meeting with a local businessman led to a request to translate his website, Judy soon found herself happily busy.  While attending a conference, Judy then met the CEO of a Foreign Exchange company who just happened to be looking for someone to expand their operation in France , leading to a new career and a fabulous 10 years.

Fast forward to 2012 and Judy and her husband found themselves living in France while dealing with the logistics of 3 elderly parents needing both time and attention in the UK.  It was time to move on to a new chapter and return to live in the UK.

Training to be a Celebrant

Asked to speak at an event on the differences between doing business with the French and the English , Judy again met someone who suggested an idea for a new business. With Judy’s great interpersonal skills and varied life experience, it was suggested that Judy would make a great Celebrant – and so Judy took the course and now finds herself officiating at weddings, funerals and christenings.

Judy says she has far more confidence in her 50s than she ever had in her 30s and 40s.  She feels she can achieve far more now that she has such a strong general feeling of contentment.

Becoming a Dementia Champion

Judy has been very moved by the experience of witnessing her father-in-law dealing with dementia. To see this incredibly capable, intelligent man gradually withdraw due to his condition has been terribly sad, and so Judy has been researching the best ways both she, and family and friends can communicate with him. With so many more people being diagnosed with dementia (some reports are suggesting that as many as one in two over 80 may be living with it), dealing with dementia in a positive way  is essential.  Judy discovered that the Alzheimer’s Society were looking for Dementia Friends and Dementia Champions – with the aim of recruiting 1 million dementia friends of all ages , with a better understanding of how those living with dementia are affected and the best ways to communicate with them so that all involved have a positive experience.

Judy feels it so important that Dementia is openly discussed, and that it is reinforced that those with dementia are still a big part of society.

Judy provided one of the best analogies I’ve heard about dementia , placing memories onto  two bookshelves – the emotional memories are placed in a solid oak bookcase, and the factual memories on a hastily put together flat packed bookcase. All the earliest memories are placed at the bottom and the recent at the top. Imaging both bookcases are shaken- which shelves are empties and which remain full? This is how the memories of living with dementia are affected.

The 5 key things that everyone should know about dementia:

  • Dementia is not a natural part of ageing
  • Dementia is caused by brain diseases
  • Dementia is not just about losing your memory
  • It is possible to live well with dementia
  • There is more to the person than the dementia

Here is a link to a brief website article about dementia friends.  http://www.dementiafriends.org.uk/

Judy is grateful for the life she has. She has just completed a 26 mile moonwalk and loves going to rock concerts. As Judy tends to take stock of her life as each new decade starts, who knows what she will change and achieve next !!

 

 

 

 

 

Ceri Wheeldon

Ceri is Founder and Editor of Fabafterfifty.co.uk She is a frequent speaker at events and in the media on topics related to women over 50 , including style and living agelessly. With 20+ years experience as a headhunter Ceri also now helps support those looking to extend their working lives.

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