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Dementia Is Everyone's Business

Author: Chris Moon-Willems

A version of this article was previously published on the Relative Matters website.

Following the recent attention on dementia and the G8 Dementia Summit, I have been reflecting on my short time as a Dementia Champion for the Dementia Friends programme, an initiative funded by the Department of Health and the Cabinet Office and championed by the Prime Minister.

Dementia has become a worldwide problem and there has been a growing number of towns, cities and communities worldwide striving to better meet the needs of their older residents living with dementia.

As a Dementia Champion I have found a lack of awareness about dementia and resistance to finding out more about it with a slow take up of the one hour free information sessions I am offering.

I think this is because people are scared of dementia, which has replaced cancer as the disease that people fear most. This fear is fuelled by stigma and misunderstanding as well as the perception that it ‘won’t happen to me’

Unfortunately, dementia will not go away if we ignore it and I am on a mission to play a role in empowering people with dementia and helping communities understand more about it so they can become more inclusive for the increasing number of people living with dementia.

My interest and passion for dementia comes from my mother who has lived with dementia for many years and the fact that over 80% of my elderly clients are also living with dementia.

Dementia Friends is one part of Alzheimer’s Society’s work to create more dementia friendly communities - places that are more understanding and welcoming of people living with dementia. Their target is to recruit one million Dementia Friends by 2015.

Dementia friendly communities

The “dementia friendly communities” programme focuses on improving the inclusion and quality of life of people with dementia.

It will be a challenge to make our communities dementia friendly and neighbors, families, friends, companies, professionals, service providers such as shops, taxi firms, banks, GP surgeries, dentists and hairdressers need to play their part and become involved.

In a dementia friendly community:

  • people will be aware of and understand more about dementia
  • people with dementia and their carers will be encouraged to seek help and support
  • people with dementia will feel included in their community, be more independent and have more choice and control over their lives.

With the right attitude and understanding people can live well with dementia and we all need to accept social responsibility and play our part in making it happen.

Dementia should be everyone’s concern not just the government’s. Becoming a Dementia Friend will help you become informed and play your part, so check out the Dementia Friends website now. Alternatively contact me via my website Relative Matters and I will be happy to help you.

Old age is not about ‘them’ it is about all of us and dementia will touch all our lives directly or indirectly. The time to act is now and I urge you as an individual or business to open your hearts and minds and become a Dementia Friend.

The publisher is The Centre for Welfare Reform.

Dementia Is Everyone's Business © Chris Moon-Willems 2014.

All Rights Reserved. No part of this paper may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher except for the quotation of brief passages in reviews.