The hour long information session, in partnership with Alzheimer's Society, hopes to help make the county I live in a Dementia Friendly Community. My local authority is keen to create a large team of 'Dementia Friends' within the council and key public services.
At the end of the session I pledged to become a Dementia Friend. So what does this involve?
"A Dementia Friend learns a little bit more about what it's like to live with dementia and then turns that understanding into action - anyone of any age can be a Dementia Friend. Whether you attend a face-to-face Dementia Friends Information Session or watch our online video, Dementia Friends is about learning more about dementia and the small ways you can help. From telling friends about Dementia Friends to visiting someone you know living with dementia, every action counts."
We started the session talking about words we associate with dementia. Nearly all of them were negative. I think for most people, the thought of yourself or a loved one being diagnosed with dementia is frightening. But living with dementia doesn't have to be a completely negative experience.
Over the hour long session we talked about the five main things we needed to take away from the information session:
- Dementia is not a natural part of ageing
- Dementia is caused by diseases of the brain
- It's not just about losing your memory
- It's possible to live well with dementia
- There's more to a person than the dementia
The Alzheimer’s Society would like us to move away from the idea of someone 'suffering' from dementia and think of it as 'living with' the condition. With the right support and initiatives like Dementia Friends, some of the myths surrounding dementia can hopefully be dispelled.
We talked about the five points listed above in more detail, and in a relatively short time, I learnt a great deal. One of my favourite parts was the analogy of dementia and a set of Christmas fairy lights to explain simply how dementia affects everyone differently. To read a full explanation of this analogy you can follow this link. I found the 'fairy light' analogy really helped to clarify the concept of dementia in my mind.
Once we'd completed the information session, we were asked to turn our understanding into action...
Some of the ways Dementia Friends suggest you can do this are:
- Getting in touch and staying in touch with someone I know living with dementia
- Volunteering for an organisation that helps people with dementia
- Campaigning for change, eg by signing up to Alzheimer’s Society’s campaigns to improve the lives of people with dementia
- Wearing Dementia Friends badge and telling 5 friends about the Dementia Friends initiative
- Carrying out a personal action eg Be more patient when out in my community
The Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends programme is their biggest ever initiative to change people’s perceptions of dementia. Please visit the Dementia Friends website and take a few minutes to watch the video or attend an information session in your local area. And then hopefully you will pledge to become a Dementia Friend and help to support people in your community.
The paper doll images used in this blog post were made by my daughter and I over the weekend. Creating brightly coloured chains of people holding hands is one of her favourite things to do. It would be lovely if community focused initiatives like Dementia Friends really took off. I hope so.
In early May I wrote a blog posts called It's cool to be kind: why we should value carers. In this post I mention one of my favourite quotes: “no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted”. I think that's so true. We've all been in situations where someone's kindness, either from a stranger or someone we know, has changed our day, week or even our life. So please, if possible, pledge to become a Dementia Friend today...
This week I'm linking up with these lovely blogs...