Profile – Maria Walsh

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Maria Walsh

Area of Research:

Co-researcher and Advisor on ESRC / NIHR Neighbourhoods: Our People, Our Places study.

Tell us a little about yourself:

I am living with Alzheimer’s and was diagnosed in 2011 at age 57 with young onsets dementia, and I am now 66.

Once the shock of the diagnosis wore off it opened up a whole new life for me…maybe even a better one than before the diagnosis. I am involved in so many things campaigning for better awareness and services for people living with dementia. I give talks at conferences, like Dementia Congress and have been involved with improving dementia services in Manchester.

I have been involved in lots of research alongside the Neighbourhoods study, including both dementia and cancer studies. I am also involved with the DEEP The UK Network of Dementia Voices.

In my working life I never liked office work, and although I started as a typist I found delight in working with the public and worked for the coop for years. Then I trained to be a Teaching Assistant which I loved and this was the last job I had working in a School Reception Class and as a lunch time organiser.

I have four daughters and one granddaughter.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself:

I have always liked being the entertainer at parties. Anything to make people laugh – I have had lots of fun along the way doing things.

Why did you choose to work in dementia?

When I was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s there was still not much known and there was a great stigma and I think this stigma is still carried today. I like to show people that just because we have a disease of the brain it doesn’t mean to say we can’t do things. In fact we have been gifted with other things  and I want to make things better even if not in my lifetime – but for others in the future and especially for younger people being diagnosed.

It also gives me the drive I need to keep going. I want to still help people and for others to know that life isn’t over with a diagnosis and in fact it takes on new meaning.

And through doing all this work I have met some lovely people along the way.

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