In this article, Dr Sunil Gupta, GP and Clinical Advisor for Dementia (Midlands and East) at NHS England has invited Dave Ash, Regional Operations Manager for West Midlands at Alzheimer’s Society to discuss how you can help the fight against dementia by becoming a Dementia Friend.
Message from Dr Sunil Gupta, GP and Clinical Advisor for Dementia (Midlands and East) at NHS England:
“This is the last of seven articles I have written offering information and advice about dementia – what the signs are, how it is diagnosed, what happens following a diagnosis, providing the right care and planning for a future. I hope you have found these useful and it has helped more people to become aware and have a better understanding of the condition. If you would like to receive copies of the other articles please email email@example.com
“I’m delighted that in this final article, Dave Ash from Alzheimer’s Society has written about Dementia Friends, a fantastic initiative which NHS England is proud to support.”
Helping people with dementia
In the UK, more than 40 per cent of us know someone, or have known someone living with dementia. This may be a relative, family friend or someone living in your neighbourhood.
Research has also shown that it is the condition most feared by those over 55. Yet, public understanding of dementia is still surprisingly low. This lack of understanding can mean that many people feel they don’t know how to talk to people with symptoms of dementia and a fear of doing the wrong thing leads to avoidance. As a result people with dementia can find themselves being stigmatised or ignored. Unfortunately that means many people with dementia who live in the community are often struggling with loneliness, and some even lose their friends after they receive a diagnosis.
Dementia Friends is a trailblazing Alzheimer’s Society initiative that was launched to change this picture. Its goal is to transform the way the nation thinks, acts and talks about dementia by giving more people an understanding of the condition and the small things that could make a difference to people living in their community. Since its launch in 2013, a million people have already become Dementia Friends.
Sessions have been held in libraries, town halls and leisure centres, while key high street names such as Marks & Spencer, Lloyds Pharmacy and Argos have also committed to make thousands of their staff Dementia Friends. But there is still a long way to go and Alzheimer’s Society is keen to see as many people as possible signing up so together, we can create more dementia friendly communities.
How do I become a Dementia Friend?
Becoming a Dementia Friend is easy to do. You can go online and watch a short video or attend one of the many information sessions that are being held across the country.
By becoming a Dementia Friend, you can learn a little more about dementia and how you can turn that understanding into action. In the face-to-face sessions, you can take part in a number of interactive activities which help to put you in the shoes of people with dementia and understand about how they might feel.
Everyone who becomes a Dementia Friend is given a distinctive forget-me-not badge which it is hoped will become a commonplace sight across England.
Turning understanding into action
Once you’ve taken part in the Dementia Friends’ information session, Alzheimer’s Society asks that you tell them how you are going to turn your understanding of dementia into a practical action. Every action counts – you don’t have to commit to doing something time-consuming.
Dementia actions could include:
- behaving patiently with someone showing the signs of dementia
- spending more time with, helping or supporting a friend or relative affected by dementia
- signposting people affected by dementia to more information and support
- volunteering with an organisation to support people with dementia.
- fundraising for a dementia-related cause.
- helping your workplace to be more dementia friendly.
- telling other people about Dementia Friends or spreading the word through social media.
Alzheimer’s Society is also keen to recruit more Dementia Friends Champions – these are volunteers who run the Dementia Friends sessions. Anyone interested in becoming a Champion can sign up for a training day where they will be provided with the information and support they need to help spread this social movement.
Further information and support
For more information on becoming a Dementia Friend visit www.dementiafriends.org.uk
You can find lots more information, advice and support on dementia via the following websites:
- Alzheimer’s Society – www.alzheimers.org.uk
- NHS – www.nhs.uk/conditions/Alzheimers-disease
- Dementia UK – www.dementiauk.org
- Carers Trust – www.carers.org
- Carers Association – www.carersuk.org
You can also call the National Dementia Helpline on 0300 222 1122 or Carers Direct on 0300 123 1053.