This week was Dementia Awareness Week, another cause that is close to my heart, being a carer for two people with dementia. I will be honest and say that I forgot about it. (I promise that there is no pun intended). I’ve been so busy being a carer and getting stuff sorted with university and Carers Week that runs from the 8th till the 14th of June.
The Alzheimer’s Society ran an advertising campaign this year, focusing on raising awareness to create an understanding of dementia (See here: http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?documentID=2970). Dementia is a big problem from the world now and unfortunately due to the ageing population, it’s only going to get bigger! The campaigns have tried to combat the stigma surrounding this horrible condition. Believe it or not, there is a lot of misunderstanding about dementia. Some think that it is a normal part of getting old, but it isn’t. Not everyone gets dementia, but A LOT of people do.
The Alzheimer’s Society also carried on their very successful Dementia Friends initiative. I’m a dementia friend and have been for a few months. Being registered as one does not take long and you get a badge and an information booklet to say thank you. It takes less than 5 minutes to sign up and if you want to do something more; you can become a Dementia Champion. (More information here: https://www.dementiafriends.org.uk/WEBAboutPage#.VWG_cWBH3q0).
It is important to learn about dementia – what it is, what it means for people and what you can do to help. Patience and understanding are two things that can make life easier for all of us, especially people with dementia. You can do something big or small, but being a dementia friend is the first step towards something bigger. You could volunteer with people with dementia, do a sponsored run or skydive. But the smaller things count, as they are big things to people with dementia. You could spend more time with a relative or friend with dementia, signpost people affected by dementia to information and support or by using good ol’ social media or word of mouth to spread the word, because dementia can be a lonely place for those who have the condition.
There has also been a lot of talk about ‘dementia friendly communities’, but what exactly are they? In my opinion, it’s where a society understands, helps and supports people with dementia. Shops, transport, hospitals, GP surgeries…all together being a catalyst for maintaining independent living for older people as long as possible. Having dementia is no doubt scary, being a carer for people with dementia is scary too, I assure you, but society has to realise that neither is as scary as they think. It’s like watching a horror movie…you may be scared, but you still watch out the corner of your eye…don’t you?
There was a lot of coverage in traditional and social media, which was nice to see. People sharing articles, research and other materials, all to generate knowledge and discussion. I hope that next year, I won’t forget and I hope that it is as successful as it has been this year.
Did you doing anything for Dementia Awareness Week?
Are you a Dementia Friend?
Get in touch!