While guest-hosting BBC Radio 4‘s Best of Today show this week, The Great Gatsby star opened up about her 91-year-old grandma Nans' battle with dementia since 2004.
Marcus Mumford's love said of visiting Nans in her assisted living home in her native Wales:
"Every visit for the last seven years, she hasn't recognized any of us … When we leave she won't remember that we've been there, but the sensation of being in the company of someone who loves you is something that we can't deny people — there's a calmness and companionship, and these really fundamental feelings of being loved and being taken care of by family who really love you. I think that's something, regardless of how progressed your dementia is, that stays with you."
While the journey hasn't been easy, the mother-of-one admitted there are "magical" moments, too:
"It gets so awful and we've had terrible visits where we've all ended up in tears, but then we have the visits where something really magical happens."
One way the family has connected with Nans is through her love of music:
"She was a great lover of music, and she taught me to sing and she taught me to play the piano, and we realized that a lot of the times, just playing music and sitting with her was just the sort of loveliest time that we could spend with her. Music is something that has often comes around for people who have dementia that it's a way of linking to the past, it's a nostalgic thing, it's a calming thing."
The Suffragette star's experience with the disease has inspired her to help combat the negative stereotypes surrounding dementia:
"It gets tiresome hearing dementia being the butt of a joke. I think there's a general misunderstanding that in a lot of areas that dementia is a natural part of aging or it's just something that happens to you when you get older."
For example, she added:
"I used to grow up hearing a lot of people referring to their grandparents having ‘lost their marbles,' which is of course something that we'd never say about somebody who'd had cancer or heart disease."
That's a fair point!
The brunette concluded:
"I think the understanding that dementia is a disease — it's a disease of the brain, there are lots of different kinds of dementia, Alzheimer's is one of them –and just spreading that awareness so that people really understand that this is a disease we have to fight."
You can listen to the full interview HERE.
Our best wishes with Nans and all of her loved ones!
[Image via Lia Toby/WENN.]
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