On Day 19 of DAI's daily #WAM2018 blog series, we are proud to share Kris McElroy's story with you. Kris is a very active member of DAI, and his incredible smile and joy, inspite of the challenges he faces, brings a smile to all of us. Kris reminds us to remember what we still have, rather than only to focus on those things we are losing. Thank you Kris, we all continue to be inspired by you.
Kris writes often on his Facebook page, and yesterday shared how he feels about DAI:
"... the voices and smiles from Dementia Alliance International groups, meetings, and chats were in my head like the little engine that could mixed with woody the woodpecker mixed with my favorite song on repeat as I drive everyone else nuts but yet I am perfectly calm, content, and even though there are many challenges and so much that is hard to put words or expression to I am reminded I can continue to move forward as the messages I gain of living well, keep stress low, laugh, I am not alone in what I am experiencing, and focus on not on what I can’t do but what I can do, I can live well."
It's not just an older person disease
Hello my name is Kris McElroy. I am a 33 year old native of Maryland, United States living in poverty with multiple disabilities including a progressive neuromuscular disorder, autoimmune disorder, and dementia. I hold a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Master of Science in Multidisciplinary Human Services.
Professionally, I have held positions in the education, advocacy, nonprofit, and human services fields. I'm also the author of Perspectives: Discovery through Difference, as well as an artist and writer who has been featured in a variety of sources over the past decade.
I was diagnosed with young onset dementia while finishing up the second year of my doctoral coursework.
The exact dementia diagnosis given on June 21, 2017 was dementia due to other medical condition with behavior disturbance. Similar to my other medical disabilities, the exact etiology is still unknown, while the complexity and overlap of his medical conditions is vast.
While I've has been adapting, adjusting, and fighting through challenges, barriers, stigma, and stereotypes related to my disabilities since childhood; life with dementia brought its own unique set of challenges, barriers, and stereotypes.
Barriers such as access to resources and quality life/health care options; and challenges with areas such as spelling, driving, comprehension, memory, multitasking, confusion, and navigating day to day life.
More than a year later since my dementia diagnosis, I have found support through Dementia Alliance International and I continue to live indepently with the help and support of my sister, a few close friends, and multiple assistive devices. I'm also an avid volunteer engaging in his community in advocacy, social change and justice work, and finding a way to live out his life purpose who has good days and bad days determined to live life well and each moment to the fullest.
Kris McElroy © 2018
DAI's vision is "A World where people with dementia are fully valued and included."