Do you know someone with dementia? Do you have the disease yourself? Sadly, today dementia is so common that few of us are complete strangers to it. But how many of you are Dementia Friends?
When it comes to dementia, a little understanding goes a long way. Recognising signs of dementia in others and showing some patience and kindness can make a big difference to the lives of people with dementia and their carers.
This is why Alzheimer’s Society (GB) is running the Dementia Friends awareness campaign. The aim of the campaign is to get as many people as possible to sign up as Dementia Friends so they can learn about the disease and better know how to deal with people who have dementia.
Watch the Dementia Friends Video
The campaign shows a great video (check it out at here), in which Gina, a lady with dementia speaks about her experiences. Some of it will surprise you.
Gina tells how she can get muddled, how dealing with change in shops can be difficult, how she often cannot find the right word, may see things that are not there and how sometimes she behaves out of character.
Without understanding it becomes difficult for a person with the early stages of dementia to continue to live a full and active life and they can easily become socially isolated.
People’s reactions can be difficult to deal with
Medcare marketing manager, Lyndsey, explains:“When my father had the early stages of dementia, one of the hardest things to deal with was people’s reactions.
“As he slowed down, struggled for words, didn’t understand money and couldn’t remember things, people could become impatient and treat him like he was stupid. This was heart breaking to see, and incredibly upsetting for him. Some people would realise there was a problem and want to behave in the right way, but not know how to react. Others were embarrassed and wanted to avoid him.
“Even many of his friends found it difficult. There were those who would try to test him, push him to remember things as though this would do him good and improve his condition. They had the best of intentions, but for him it was just upsetting. He could not do what they asked and it only highlighted his deterioration.
“He began to find large groups difficult as he couldn’t follow conversations and few people had the patience to take time to include him. He withdrew more and more from social situations, isolating both himself and my mother who was caring for him.
“As he worsened, being out in public became even more of a challenge. His personality changed and his behaviour became childlike and often inappropriate. Many times we would have to hastily explain about his dementia to waiters or shop assistants. Most people were kind when they knew, though would still did not know how to deal with him.
“Of course, there were lots of fantastic people, too. Those who had been through it with a loved one would quickly spot the signs, let my mother know they understood and usually have some valuable experiences to share.
“This meant everything to us. It was always lovely to meet someone who knew how to treat him. Then you could relax and not feel you had to explain, excuse or be worried about what he would do or say. And understanding somehow gave him back his dignity. This is why the Dementia Friends campaign is so important, as more than just those who have been through it need to understand.”
So, (go here), watch the video and become a Dementia Friend. There is no way of knowing whose lives will be devastated by dementia, but a greater understanding from us all will help people living with dementia and their carers.
Dementia information and help
One of the best sources of information on dementia is the Alzheimer’s Society. Check out their website here
If you are in Spain and need help with dementia, try the following organisations