It’s World Alzheimer’s Day. It takes place on the 21st September every single year. A day to unite the Nation against Dementia, raise awareness and work together to overcome barriers and struggles that people with Dementia may face daily. There are over 50 million people world wide living with Dementia. This day encourages us to work together and collaboratively make a difference but there are ways to show your support daily. One of which, is becoming a Dementia Friend.
For those of you who don’t know, Dementia is a progressive deterioration of the brain function. This can often result in a decline in memory and increased confusion- the most common symptoms associated with Dementia. What some people don’t realise is that this condition can affect people in so many other ways too- language, mood and movement to name a few. Many people live with Dementia for years and manage their symptoms with support from their family and friends, keeping in touch with professionals and following their advice, and maintaining a routine. For others, this is no longer possible and day-to-day activities can become increasingly difficult and distressing.
When people think ‘Dementia’ quite often they think ‘Alzheimers’. Alzheimers is currently the most prevalent form of Dementia in the UK but there are lots of different forms of Dementia. Some of the less common forms of Dementia can even include symptoms such as hallucinations and losing the ability to empathise.
Usually Dementia is diagnosed in people over 65 years of age but it is being seen the younger population. Unfortunately, at the moment there is no cure- however, speaking to professionals, speaking to those close to you and visiting the GP at the first sign of cognitive decline can help. By noticing and reporting changes in brain function early, professionals can prepare a treatment plan to help slow down the progression of the Dementia.
It is predicted that in 2025 there will be 1 million people in the UK living with Dementia. This shows the importance of working together to make a difference and help those who need it.
What is a Dementia Friend?
‘Dementia Friends’ is an initiative created by the Alzheimers Society in hope to change perceptions of Dementia and support those whose lives are affected by it. They say it is to “transform the way the nation thinks, acts and talk about the condition”. This initiative surrounds the value of making regular small acts to help with this movement. These acts could range from simply talking to someone about the ‘Dementia Friends’ programme and visiting a friend or relative with this condition to attending community sessions or taking up a volunteer position.
Since becoming a ‘Dementia Friend’ at the beginning of 2015 I have volunteered in a local nursing home organising and running activities for residents and attended community sessions aimed at those with Dementia (such as walking groups and singing sessions). I am lucky to have been in a rewarding career in the care sector throughout the past 3 years in which my role was to support those with Dementia and other cognitive impairment and will continue to do so in my new role as a mental health nurse. I have also talked about the ‘Dementia Friends’ initiative and encouraged some of my friends to take the ‘pledge’.
My experiences are just some of the wonderful things you could do in support of the Alzheimers Society and their goals. If this sounds like something you’d like to get involved with, you can sign up (completely free!) here: https://www.dementiafriends.org.uk/register-digital-friend or attend a face-to-face session in your local area for more information.
If you’d like more information about the different forms of Dementia, follow this link: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/about-dementia/types-dementia/what-dementia.
Let me know if you are already a Dementia Friend and what you have done to support this initiative! I’d also love to hear if you have decided to become a Dementia Friend recently.
Until next time,
Love, Kayleigh Rose x