Why We Need to Be Helping Those in Our Community Who Need a Little Help from Their Friends
You may recognise a few familiar faces in the latest TV advert campaign by Dementia charity, Dementia.com.
Musicians such as Lily Allen and Chris Martin have collaborated to help raise awareness of a new scheme called ‘Dementia Friends’. They are joined by other famous faces, including actor Simon Pegg, and footballer Leighton Baines.
The advert begins with real life dementia sufferer, Gina, who explains she has been diagnosed with early stage dementia. As she starts to sing the popular Beatles’ hit ‘I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends’, she is joined in chorus by the celebrities.
The 2.4 million pound plan, part funded by the Department of Health and the Social Fund, aims to encourage community members to become so-called ‘Dementia Friends’. These ‘friends’ are required to provide support and friendship to those suffering with the disease.
The scheme’s main objectives are to make the sufferer feel included and valued in their own community. Having a ‘Dementia Friend’ will make them feel secure and more confident so they can interact in their community and take part in local activities. This is something they may not have had the confidence to do before.
Author Terry Pratchett, famous for the Discworld series of books, was diagnosed with the disease in 2012. He also features in the advert and is another supporter of the campaign. He said:
“I struggle with a rarer type, which holds me back in ways I never thought possible. But what I do share with the hundreds of thousands living with this tricksy condition is disbelief at the stigma and shame still surrounding a disease that affects the brain and which can ultimately affect as many as one in three of us.”
‘Dementia’ is an umbrella term with incorporates several different symptoms of memory loss. These include: Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most popular, vascular dementia and dementia with lewy’s.
In the case of Alzheimer’s disease, chemicals in the brain, and the actual brain structure itself, deteriorate over time. This can be hugely distressing to both the person with the disease and also their friends and family.
Dementia can affect a person’s day to day tasks and they may find it difficult to remember recent events. The dementia sufferer can also have trouble organising their day and may forget certain words whilst in conversation. They may also have trouble orienting themselves around once familiar places, such as finding their way to the bus stop or working their way around the supermarket.
Today, there are over 800,000 sufferers of dementia. Of this number, 17,000 sufferers are aged under 65. Dementia can affect men and women alike.
This large number really hammers home the importance of a scheme like Dementia Friends. A wider understanding of the disease, and a solid support network, can make the world of difference to sufferers.
The Centre for Economics and Business Research estimates that 50,000 people will have to exit employment this year to care for relatives who are suffering from dementia.
The report goes on to say that 10 per cent of people that care for those with dementia will have to withdraw from work altogether. Twelve per cent reduce the numbers of hours worked.
As a result of this, English businesses are losing hundreds of millions of pounds each year.
As one in five Britons have given up work to care for an elderly relative, Dementia UK are keen to promote their new scheme. This will alleviate the pressures on family members, who are often the sole carers of dementia sufferers and elderly relatives.
People who attend Dementia Friend meetings will be issued with a Forget me Not ribbon, which they are able to display to show they have been trained as a person able to help someone suffering from Dementia. They will also receive a free Little Book of Friendship, which is packed full of helpful tips.
Being able to provide a person in your neighbourhood with the kind of help and support they need in what can be a difficult time of life, is crucial for the growth and development of communities.
If you, or someone you know is interested in becoming a Dementia Friend, you can find out more by visiting https://www.dementiafriends.org.uk/ and finding out what local opportunities there are for you to get involved in.
Written by Josie Aplin, www.redfoxwriting.com