Flicking through page after page picturing baubles, bangles and bright, shiny accessories in a glossy women’s mag this month, one page caught my eye. It asked readers to donate unwanted jewellery for recycling to help people with dementia.
In my mind, jewellery and dementia will forever be associated because my late mother suffered from memory loss and spent the last five years of her life in a nursing home. Despite her mental and physical frailty (she also had osteoporosis, the bone-wasting disease), my 80-something mama always tried to “make the most of herself” with nice clothes, jewellery, a little perfume and make-up. Then she lost her wedding ring and another with three diamonds in a beautiful curved setting that my grandmother had left her.
So an appeal by the Alzheimer’s Society, which helps people with all types of memory loss, was particularly poignant for me. More than 800,000 people in the UK, two thirds of them women, suffer from the desperately under-funded disease which costs the UK £23 billion a year. And the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has just announced that improving care for dementia sufferers is to be one of his top four priorities.
I’ve already donated my old jewellery, including my mother’s defunct gold watch, for fundraising at my kids’ old primary school, but I’ll dig a little deeper this weekend and see what I can find. The Alzheimer’s Society will even send you a padded envelope so you don't have to pay for postage ( http://alzheimers.org.uk/jiffy ). Doesn’t matter if it’s broken or an earring that has lost its twin. And if what Santa puts in your stocking doesn’t quite suit...