Becoming a Dementia Friend
I have just become a Dementia Friend.
I have been a solicitor for many years and have met numerous people during my career who suffer from dementia, their families, and their struggles. It was only recently that I became a Dementia Friend following a visit to a local care home. Having returned to the office with a Dementia Friend leaflet, I decided to learn more about dementia and the effect it has on those living with it and the social isolation that people can sadly face, due to a lack of understanding and awareness.
Dementia is caused by brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Vascular Dementia and Lewy Bodies and causes an ongoing decline of brain function. It can affect memory, thinking skills, behaviour, mood and problem-solving skills, to name only a few of the symptoms.
It is estimated that 1 in 3 people born in the UK this year will develop dementia during their lives and there are currently 944,000 people with dementia in the UK right now. However, dementia is not inevitable and is not a natural part of ageing.
By becoming a Dementia Friend, which is an Alzheimer’s Society initiative, the idea is that the new member commits to carrying out an act, big or small to get people talking and to change perceptions about dementia. This could include spending time talking to someone with dementia, discussing the issue with a group of friends, holding an event to raise awareness or something as simple as being kind and more patient with a dementia sufferer in a public place.
I decided to write this short article using information obtained from the Dementia Friends website and also my own research. I also discussed the topic with a number of people to spread the word and discovered that at least two of my friends are already Dementia Friends themselves. I watched a number of helpful videos recommended on the Dementia Friends web page and I will continue to be aware that we need to change the way we think, act and talk about dementia and also how we interact and care for those with dementia.
The five key messages of Dementia Friends are:-
- Dementia is not a natural part of ageing
- Dementia is caused by diseases of the brain
- Dementia is not just about losing your memory. It can affect how you think, communicate and carry out everyday tasks.
- It is possible for a person to live at home and live well with dementia
- There is more to a person than the dementia
By learning more and raising awareness about dementia I am now part of a movement to make a difference and you can be too.
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