Archive for December, 2013

Dementia Is Everyone's Business

Following the recent attention on dementia and the G8 Dementia Summit (check out my blog The G8 Dementia Summit – A Missed Opportunity) I have been reflecting on my short time as a Dementia Champion for the Dementia Friends Initiative.

Increasing prevalence of dementia

There are now over 800,000 people living with dementia in the UK and this will triple over the next 30 years. One of the most worrying statistics is that 1 in 3 of us will get dementia at some stage in our life and the rest will feel its impact from a friend, relative or someone they know who is living with dementia.

The UK is not alone. Dementia has become a worldwide problem and there has been a growing number of towns, cities and communities worldwide striving to better meet the needs of their older residents living with dementia.

Lack of awareness, fear, stigma and misunderstanding

I have found a lack of understanding about dementia and resistance to find out more about it with a slow take up of the one hour free information sessions I offer as a Dementia Champion.

I think this is because people are scared of dementia, which has replaced cancer as the disease that people fear most. This fear is fuelled by stigma and misunderstanding as well as the misguided perception that it ‘won’t happen to me’.

Unfortunately, dementia will not go away if we ignore it and I am on a mission to empower people about dementia and play a role in helping communities understand dementia so they can become more inclusive for the increasing number of people living with dementia. old-people-beauty-care

A personal and professional interest in dementia

My interest and passion for dementia comes from my mother who has lived with dementia for many years and the fact that 80% of my elderly clients are living with dementia too.

About Dementia Friends

As the brain gradually shuts down people with dementia sometimes need a helping hand to go about their daily lives and feel included in the local community.

Dementia Friends is about giving more people an understanding of dementia and the small things that could make a difference to people living in their local community.

The initiative is funded by the Department of Health and the Cabinet Office and championed by the Prime Minister

Dementia Friends is one part of Alzheimer’s Society’s work to create more dementia friendly communities – places that are more understanding and welcoming of people living with dementia. Their target is to recruit one million Dementia Friends by 2015.

Dementia friendly communities

The “dementia friendly communities” programme focuses on improving the inclusion and quality of life of people with dementia.  In these communities:

  • people will be aware of and understand more about dementia;
  • people with dementia and their carers will be encouraged to seek help and support;
  • people with dementia will feel included in their community, be more independent and have more choice and control over their lives.

And it’s great publicity for businesses that sign up. The Prime Minister’s challenge on dementia  includes an ambition to create communities that are working to help people live well with dementia. With the right attitude and approach people certainly can live well with dementia.

It will be a challenge to make our communities dementia friendly and neighbours, families, friends, companies, shops, taxi firms, banks, GP surgeries, dentists, professionals, hairdressers and other service providers need to become involved.

In a dementia friendly community:

  • people will be, aware of and understand more about dementia
  • people with dementia and their carers will be encouraged to seek help and support
  • people with dementia will feel included in their community, be more independent and have more choice and control over their lives

Publicity

And it’s great publicity for businesses that staff sign up to becoming Dementia Friends.

Living well with dementia

With the right attitude and understanding people can live well with dementia and we all need to accept social responsibility and play our part in making it happen.

Dementia should be everyone’s concern not just the government’s. Becoming a Dementia Friend will help you become informed and play your part so check out the Dementia Friends website now. Alternatively contact me via my website Relative Matters and I will be happy to help you.

The time to act is now

Old age is not about ‘them’ it is about all of us and dementia will touch all our lives directly or indirectly. The time to act is now and I urge you as an individual/business to open your hearts and minds and become a Dementia Friend.

The G8 Dementia Summit – A Missed Opportunity

Dementia presents the biggest health and social care challenge of a generation and replaces cancer as the disease that people fear most.

There are now over 800.00 people living with dementia in the UK and this number is set to treble over the next 30 years. 1 in 3 people over the age of 65 will get dementia at some time in their life.

Dementia does not only affect us Brits, it has become an international challenge resulting in much attention. To discuss the challenges presented by Dementia, a G8 Dementia Summit was held this week in London on 11 December 2013. It brought together G8 ministers, researchers, pharmaceutical companies and charities from around the world. Wow! what an opportunity I thought!

However the sole focus of the summit was on research, a travesty for all of us involved in promoting living well with dementia and the ‘person centred approach’, which has been at the heart of good dementia care, was conspicuous by its absence.Dementia is not a natural part of growing old

To make matters worse people, including those living with dementia were exposed to scaremongering rhetoric. We already know that people living with dementia are directly affected by stereotypes and negative attitudes to dementia. The widespread use of military style metaphors – time bombs, battles, victims and fights in addition to media promotion of the term ‘ suffering from dementia’ combine to increase fear of the disease and those living with it. This fear exacerbates the isolation and exclusion that people with dementia reportedly feel following diagnosis.

While we certainly do need to find a cure for dementia and more importantly, how to prevent it, we urgently need to look at how to support people who are living with dementia now. The way we support people living with dementia is as important as scientific research and medicine.

In a modern society people have a right to live well with dementia not merely exist. People can live well with dementia but it requires courage to think in a different way and do something different in practice and the myths and stigma that surround dementia, need to be challenged. The time to act is now.

As more and more families are touched by dementia I am hoping the imperative to change things will gain momentum. I plan to play my part by informing people about dementia and promoting dementia friendly communities, as a Dementia Champion (more about this next time) and also  in my work as an independent care consultant specialising in person-centred dementia services.