Becoming Dementia Friends
- AuthorRachel Leech
As part of Dementia Awareness Week, and in supporting our charity of the year, Alzheimer’s Society, my colleague Caroline and I undertook training to become Dementia Friends to enable us to better support those living with dementia.
The Dementia Friends initiative is about creating a dementia friendly community where more people understand dementia, and those living with dementia are supported and included in society. One of the most important things is not to treat someone living with dementia any differently than you would have done before they received their diagnosis. Nor should you assume they cannot do something just because they have dementia. Being a Dementia Friend, you learn that you should communicate clearly, make eye contact, and let the person do as much for themselves as possible. Treating people with dignity and respect prevents the dementia from taking over their lives.
Another part of the training was learning the five key messages:
- Dementia is not a natural part of ageing. Dementia can affect anyone of any age.
- Dementia is caused by diseases of the brain.
- Dementia is not just about losing your memory - it can affect thinking, perception, communicating and doing everyday tasks.
- It’s possible to live well with dementia. Having dementia does not mean someone’s life is over, nor that they can no longer do things for themselves.
- There’s more to a person than the dementia.
One of the most surprising things we learnt was that people living with dementia are more likely to retain emotions than memories. People often think its not worthwhile visiting a loved one as they will forget your visit. However, it is still important you visit, as the feeling of happiness and enjoyment from your time with them will remain, even if the memory of your visit does not.
So what now? Part of becoming a Dementia Friend is taking a pledge to take action. So Caroline and I are going to encourage other people to become Dementia Friends, particularly through social media, and wear our badges with pride!
If you would like to learn more about becoming a Dementia Friend please visit www.dementiafriends.org.uk.