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Are you ready to grow old?

I’ll admit it, I’m terrified.

Watching my dad declining through dementia was one of the worst experiences. Robbed of his ability to recognise faces, struggling to eat and losing his capacity to make the simplest of decisions.

But there were moments of light; he was often transported back to his days of National Service, vividly describing his surroundings and the tasks he carried out as if he were actually going through the motions there and then.

And he never lost his capacity to tell us he loved us.

Dad enjoying a moment with Father Christmas

The Christmas before he died, I wanted him to experience the joy of giving gifts again. In a care home and immobile, he wasn’t able to go out and buy presents himself.

So I took him small gifts and we wrapped them together. Simple toys for his grandchildren and pearl earrings for mum.

If there’s any advice I can offer to anyone thinking of growing old, it is to plan. Plan well for what you want for yourself or a loved one. There may be a time when you or they can’t speak for themselves.

By the time dementia came, it was too late to have meaningful conversations with dad. We didn’t even know if he would prefer a burial or cremation.

It might feel like a big step to talk about what lies ahead, but it’s so very important.

It’s one of the reasons I was so grateful to be asked to voice this video for Carers UK about planning ahead.

Sometimes a voice over is more than work; it’s an opportunity to impart really sensible and profound information. I hope I did it justice.

Do you think you could have that conversation today? Please, please do.

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