Dementia Action Week (previously known as Dementia Awareness Week) takes place between 21st – 27th May and the Alzheimer’s Society is urging everyone to take actions, big or small that will make a huge difference to people affected by dementia.
One person develops dementia every three minutes in the UK, and currently too many are facing dementia alone and without adequate support. Whilst dementia can impact a person’s life in many ways, it shouldn’t prevent a person from living a life of their choosing, one where they are respected and valued in their community.
Whether you know someone who has been living with dementia for years, someone recently diagnosed or would just like to be better equipped in day to day life, Dr Tim Beanland, Head of Knowledge Management at Alzheimer’s Society, has provided us with the following tips on how best to support someone living with dementia:
Find fun things to do together: We are all unique with different hobbies and interests that we enjoy doing in our spare time. When supporting a person with dementia, it’s crucial that you focus on what the person still has, rather than what’s been lost. Whether it’s listening to a song or cooking their favourite meal, try to find something you enjoy doing together.
Be patient: Patience can go a long way for a person with dementia. If you see someone struggling, gently support them to do things for themselves by allowing plenty of time and breaking down the tasks into smaller, easier steps. By taking this approach, you are helping them to feel empowered and independent.
Get them involved: A dementia diagnosis doesn’t have to mean an end to an active and busy social life. There are many ways to involve people living with dementia, from something as simple as going for a walk to staying in and doing a puzzle or visiting a local dementia café. We all need to take actions that make sure that people with dementia feel empowered and valued within their community.
Take time to talk: It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life but living with dementia doesn’t have an off button. Try to understand how the person with dementia is feeling – take the time to listen to their worries, encourage them to talk about their condition and don’t be afraid to ask questions (but not too many).
Encourage change in your local community: Often, our local communities are where we feel safe and accepted, but for some people living with dementia this sometimes isn’t the case. A lack of understanding and awareness of dementia in their local area can cause many people with dementia to withdraw from their community and leave them feeling isolated.
Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador, Joy Watson, who developed dementia during her 40’s, has worked extensively to make her local community of Eccles more dementia-friendly. From asking businesses to be more patient when a person with dementia is paying at the till to asking them to change the mats at the front of the store from black to green – these small actions are great examples of how local communities can change to become more inclusive for people living with dementia.
For more information on how you can get involved this Dementia Action Week and unite against dementia, visit http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/DAW
If you are interested learning more about dementia or would like to become an Alzheimer Society Dementia Friend, please visit: www.dementiafriends.org.uk