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Idalina Aguiar, a member of the European Working Group of People with Dementia, shares her personal experience of the impact of COVID-19

Thursday 19 March 2020

On 7 March, I celebrated my 80th birthday, on the neighbouring paradise island of Porto Santo. My family and friends were by my side and made this day so very special and memorable for me. Things were normal and I was coping well.

Now, however, times are changing so fast. Difficult days are ahead, where every day, we are being put to the test.

Despite living with dementia, I found that with the help of my family, I could still live with a degree of quality. I was in a day centre, specifically organised for people with dementia, where I spent every day of the week. I was with other people, all with varying types of dementia, in an environment where we were properly stimulated and helped.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, the little I have left has already been stripped away. With the declaration of the State of Emergency in my country, extreme measures are being taken to prevent the spread of the virus. For me, the direct and heart-breaking consequence is the closure of all the day centres. I have been home now for several weeks, cut off from my friends, without any certainty about when this trial of humanity will be over.

Even though I know it is for the good of all, it has been very difficult personally, but at least I can still write you these words and so my voice can still be heard.