Dementia Friends – Part 2
In the first part I’ve tried to briefly explain what Dementia Friends is, a social movement to raise awareness about dementia.
Why is raising awareness important? There are over 100 different types of dementia, which is in part a loss of memory, but it is also a loss of functionality. It is about loss, so it is not about an ability that you never had, it is a progressive loss of ability and memory.
Being a Dementia Friend is not about being an expert on dementia or being a carer, it is just about caring. It is about being willing to make a difference.
People with dementia are still people, they have hopes, dreams & fears. Depending on the stage and progression of their dementia they can live very fulfilling lives. They may need some help and understanding. It is much better to help them to something or do it with them, than to do it for them. That way they will retain their skills for as long as possible.
An important thing that I learned on the Dementia Champion training is their ability to remember emotions. So if you were to go & cook a meal with/for someone and get cross with them that they’d forgotten how to make it & had made a mess of the kitchen, they won’t remember what they had eaten, but they will remember you were cross with them, the memory of the emotion will stay with them for much longer.
So Dementia Friends is about caring, it is about taking the time not to get cross with someone. It is about accepting them for who they are, which is what all of us ever really want!! It is about caring enough to make a small extra effort, it doesn’t have to be huge effort, but if everyone did, what a huge difference that would make. If we all did it, then that would be around 67 million people, so to try to sign up just 1 million is a much easier job.
Most people know someone with dementia or someone who has had dementia, sometimes it is a close relative and they have hands on experience, but sometimes it is not so close.
We all want kindness from a friend or a stranger, how is that any different for someone with dementia. Dementia Friends is therefore about having a tiny bit of understanding about dementia and a huge amount of compassion for those who live with it and their carers.
So please become a Dementia Friend, please care, please make a difference. Your life will be enhanced if you do.
As a Dementia Champion, if anyone would like me to hold a Dementia Friends awareness session, please contact me.