Carey Mulligan pens heartbreaking essay about grandmother’s dementia: “it felt like she was being taken away from us”

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Kayleigh Dray
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Carey Mulligan has opened up about the devastating impact her grandmother’s dementia has had on her family in a poignant essay.

Referring affectionately to her beloved gran as ‘nans’ in her post, which was published in the Huffington Post, she explained: “My earliest memories of Nans showing symptoms of dementia come from when I was about 16 years old.

“I remember her losing her way home on a short walk to the village, a walk she had taken hundreds of times before.

"I remember sitting down to a meal with her and watching her stare at her knife and fork having completely forgotten how to use them.”

The Great Gatsby actress continued: “Today Nans rarely communicates verbally and most of the time her eyes are closed.

"Sometimes it feels like she’s not there anymore and that we just can’t reach her - and those are always the hardest visits.”

Despite this, Mulligan insists that her grandmother’s illness does not – and will not – take anything away from who she is.

“She is very much still there,” said the 31-year-old, “and there is so much more to Nans than the dementia. For every visit that ends in tears of sadness, there are visits where we weep with joy.”

Mulligan was recently appointed the UK’s first global Dementia Friends Ambassador, by the Alzheimer’s Society and Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt.

For the Oscar-winning actress, this has proven to be one of the best things to come out of her grandmother’s illness.

For the Oscar-winning actress, this has proven to be one of the best things to come out of her grandmother’s illness.

“One of the positives that has come out of our experience is being able to better see the world through the eyes of someone who is living with dementia.

“It has instilled in me a great desire to live in a society where people with dementia are understood and appreciated.”

Explaining what she hopes to achieve in her new role, she added that she wants to live “in a society where people look out for others - where they are warm, friendly and helpful.”

She added that she hopes, one day soon, that everyone with dementia will be “treated with the respect and dignity they deserve”.

“It means creating a world where every person in every corner of the world is dementia aware,” finished Mulligan.

About Dementia Friends

Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends programme is the biggest ever initiative to change people’s perceptions of dementia. It aims to transform the way the nation thinks, acts and talks about the condition.

Find out more on their website here.



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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.