During my involvement with Dementia Awareness Week, I learnt that there are 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK and over 21 million people know someone affected by the condition – that’s 1 in 3 of the population whose lives are touched by this disease. My limited experience of people with dementia told me that they are “sufferers”, lonely and excluded by society.
But then I hear about Dementia Friends. Dementia Friends is a social action movement run by The Alzheimer’s Society that aims to give people an understanding of dementia, and the small things we can all do that could make a difference to people living with dementia in our communities. There are over 1.5 million Dementia Friends already in the UK.
After doing some investigation, I decided to become a Dementia Friend, which changed my understanding of Dementia completely. I learnt that dementia is not a natural part of the ageing process but a disease that attacks the brain. I also learnt that dementia is not just about losing your memory – it can affect any function of the brain. But the most important thing I learnt was that it is possible to live well with dementia. People with dementia are not sufferers, with a few adjustments and more understanding from the community where they live they can continue to live a positive life.
At the end of the session, you are asked how you will put your new knowledge into practice. I committed to become a Dementia Friends Champion, because I want other people to understand more about dementia, as the more of us who know a little bit more, the better life will be for the millions whose lives are touched by the disease.