Bill Boothroyd - WW II VetMemories naturally fade as we age, but, for those with dementia and Alzheimer's, those memories can all but disappear as the disease progresses. For war veterans with dementia, keeping those memories alive can be extremely difficult and frustrating. Reminiscing about the war can conjure up a range of emotions, from sadness to joy.
Bill Boothroyd, a veteran of WW II who fought in Italy, often struggled to remember his time overseas. Bill had dementia and lived at Nanaimo Travellers Lodge (NTL) until his recent passing in January 2011. Bill's wife, Norma, was caring for him at home before he was relocated to NTL for full-time care. This transition was difficult for them; the Boothroyds had been together since 1945 when they met while roller skating in Victoria shortly after Bill came home from the war.
Bill remembered that, when he was a teenager in Saskatoon, the Navy was appealing for volunteers and he thought it would be an interesting opportunity. At 16 he lied about his age and tried to enlist three different times before his father finally gave in and let him go - his persistence paid off!
Even though his dementia was far along, many wartime memories were still alive in Bill. His face lit up when he talked about his role checking areas in Italy prior to an invasion to ensure they were safe. The job could be dangerous, but he relished the challenge. He remembered the good times - the wine, the people and the friends he made while overseas. Being in the Navy allowed him to travel the world while serving his country, something that made him proud.
Remembering stories from the war is important to be able to share them with the next generation. For vets with dementia, remembering and sharing war stories helps them to feel alive and engaged. Thank you to Bill who shared his story.