When I was training to be a Social Worker I was sent on a placement for 8 weeks to a day centre for people living with dementia. I was scared, uncomfortable and anxious about this.
What on earth would it be like?
It was actually one of the most fun (yes fun!) uplifting and positive placements I had. I was in charge of entertainment. We had old time dances, bingo and singing as well as gentle exercising. The service users short term memories were not great but those long ago memories were often sound and our centre rang out with the sounds of Daisy Daisy and Pack up your Troubles. We talked about long ago romances and war time memories and it was a rather lovely job actually.
For the service users who had fun, felt part of a community and tuned into happy times, this day centre made a really positive impact. For their carers too it provided respite.
I became an expert bingo caller, we had fun prizes and lots of giggles. For a brief spell twice a week, in a supportive community the impact of dementia was lessened and a good time was had by all.
I will never forget that job. Such a positive service, particularly for those in the early stages of dementia who were feeling isolated and for their friends and family.
I am a Dementia friend and I would so love for you to become one too. Public Health England and the Alzheimer’s Society launched the Dementia Friends campaign last year. The idea is to help everyone come together to help people with dementia live well.
Pretty much everyone knows someone who has experience with dementia, it affects many people in all sorts of ways, friends carer, relatives those living with the condition.
To become a Dementia friend, simply visit www.dementiafriends.org.uk watch a short online film which explains what dementia is, how it affects people and what you can do to help. A few useful tips and a bit of understanding from all of us can make life so much easier for those who experience dementia
By connecting with who they were when they were young I really began to see and appreciate the people I worked with.
It is often believed dementia has a greater impact on the lives of family and friends that the person with the condition itself. Do you talk to your kids about illnesses such as dementia? Sharing understanding can really reduce their fears and can make such a difference.It’s a good topic for schools to address too. Resources for schools are available at www.alzheimers.org.uk/youngpeople if this is something you would like to encourage your child’s school to support.
Disclaimer: I’m working with BritMums and Public Health England alongside the #BritMumsDementiaFriends campaign. I have been compensated for my time. All editorial and opinions are my own. Visit the Dementia Friends site http://bit.ly/1wglQD4 for more information and resources about coping with dementia among family and friends.