Becoming Dementia Friends for Dementia Awareness Week
This week has marked a significant campaign that runs very close to my heart; it’s been dementia awareness week.
Three years ago my family life was turned upside down when my Grandad moved into a nursing home. He’d had dementia for a number of years and my grandmother cared for him until her quality of life had become too affected to carry on.
As a close-knit Irish family it was only natural that I moved in with my Grandma for a few months to keep her company (bring on the lamb hotpots!). Unfortunately, it soon became apparent that she had signs of early onset dementia and my role changed from companion to carer. Although that being said, from her side I’m pretty sure she thinks she’s caring for me.
One diagnosis, two fires, three falls and an infinite number of dementia adventures later; we are still both living with dementia. We take each day as it comes the highs, the lows, the tears, the expletives and most importantly the love and the laughter.
In another life when I worked in commissioning for adult social services, I came across the Dementia Friends programme, led by the Alzheimer’s Society. Dementia Friends is a social action movement that aims to increase the understanding of dementia and inspire people to take action to support those affected by dementia.
The movement uses information sessions led by trained volunteers called ‘dementia champions’. The first session I attended was a complete eye opener – I learnt a lot and it helped me to understand how my Grandma might see the world.
I was so blown away by the project that my chosen action was to volunteer and train to become a dementia champion. Throughout the year I find it difficult to fit many information sessions in around work and my caring role but, Dementia Awareness Week is a great excuse for me to be able to run sessions for those who are interested. This year my Neo PR colleagues jumped at the chance to become dementia friends (especially as I told them they would get a badge)!
There are now over one million dementia friends across England and Wales, to find out more about dementia and what you can do to support dementia friendly communities click here!
Even our office dog Sam listened in on the session!