Guest blog by David Latcham from the Alzheimer’s Society.
What’s the first thing that pops into your head when I mention the word “dementia”?
Old? Forgetful? Sad? Scary? Maybe that newspaper image of someone alone in a care home? I often hear these negative answers, which are a real reflection of how our society as a whole views dementia.
So it may surprise you that out of 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, more than 40,000 of those are under the age of 65 (some as young as 30). Not only that, but two-thirds will be living out and about in their community. They’ll be shopping in the high street, driving to see friends, sometimes on their own, sometimes supported by others who help them live as well as they can. You may not have noticed them, but someone will be affected by dementia in your community.
Working for Alzheimer’s Society, I raise awareness of dementia and build dementia friendly communities throughout Telford. I do this because people with dementia tell me how much they want to take part in their community, but many feel worried that their community won’t understand their difficulties or know how to help.
You see, it takes more than just a person’s family or neighbours to help someone live well with dementia – the whole community has a part to play!
Here are 3 ways that people with dementia recommend doing just that:
A great way to understand more about dementia is through Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends initiative. Through this initiative you can learn about what it’s like to live with dementia and turn that understanding into action. If your interested you can register to become a Dementia Friend online.
If your part of a group that you think would benefit from Dementia friend sessions then I and other volunteers run free, 60 minute, interactive sessions for businesses, groups and communities throughout Telford. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call me 01952 250392.
2. Make your high street dementia friendly
80% of people with dementia say shopping is their favourite activity, but 63% don’t think shops do enough to help them. I support all types of organisation to take dementia friendly actions (big and small), and provide resources to help them do that (like our fantastic guide for customer-facing staff).
By taking action, they can also be part of the local Dementia Action Alliance. With this comes formal recognition for what they are doing (and a fancy sticker for their window) meaning people with dementia can easily spot the places that will understand and help them.
3. Take dementia friendly action yourself
The things that help people with dementia don’t have to cost us much. Space, time and a smile help people feel confident even when confused. Maybe you could encourage your community to become more dementia friendly (I’d be happy to help you do that).
This month you could join our local Memory Walk, 17 September, Attingham Park, to unite with others to help Alzheimer’s Society to support those with dementia. People of all ages and abilities can join in, from grandparents to grandchildren, and even furry four-legged friends.
Help us make Telford dementia friendly
There’s so much that can be done to help people with dementia live well in their communities, but it will take the whole community uniting together to do it.
If you want to find out more or get involved, contact me:
David Latcham – Information Worker, Alzheimer’s Society
Tel: 01952 250392