by Ruthanne Gregory |

It’s Dementia Action Week 2019 and the Alzheimer’s Society’s brilliant campaign (#DAW2019 #AskUsAnything) has inspired me to share my story of becoming a Dementia Friend and Champion.

With 4 Dementia Champions and at least 50 Dementia Friends colleagues at The People’s Pension, we think this is a great way of looking out for our customers, our colleagues and their family and friends. Dementia Friends is the biggest ever initiative to change people’s perceptions of dementia.

All walks of life

So, back in October last year I used one of my volunteering days (at B&CE, provider of The People’s Pension) to attend an Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Champion induction session in Brighton. What an amazing day, learning something new with a lovely group of people from all walks of life. It was both interesting and inspiring to hear why everyone in the group had chosen to be there.

Our group, ready to learn more about dementia, included a front of house theatre manager, several people from social care groups and Sussex care homes, a veterinary nurse passionate about the bond between humans and animals and a fabulous company called Pedal People – they take care home residents out in bike trailers to enjoy the wind in their hair and feel the sun on their faces. Lovely stuff.

Raising awareness of dementia

It really helps to understand the challenges people face living with dementia and the simple things we can do to help. Those challenges might include feeling anxious or stressed and fear of not being able to remember things, follow conversations or concentrate on anything, every-day tasks included.

Keeping people’s busy daily schedules in mind, especially our phone-based teams taking calls from customers, we produced an online training module. This means anyone can log on, at a time to suit their schedule, and learn more about dementia. It doesn’t mean they’ll become an expert – and they’re not expected to. But, by taking 5 or 10 minutes out of their day, the module gives them access to industry-specific online videos from the Alzheimer’s Society.

Small things, big difference

Every little counts and we’re delighted to be doing our bit towards creating dementia-friendly communities and transforming the way the nation thinks, acts and talks about dementia.

Too many people affected by dementia feel that society fails to understand the condition they live with. Dementia Friends help by raising awareness and understanding, so that people living with the condition can continue to live in the way they want. And who doesn’t deserve that.

Becoming a volunteer Dementia Friend means joining and becoming part of a social action movement.

The ‘action’ doesn’t have to be anything big, it might be something as simple as:

  • sharing something you’ve seen about dementia on social media
  • changing the language you use when talking to or about someone with dementia eg saying ‘living with dementia’ not ‘suffering with dementia’.

800,000 people in the UK live with dementia and this is expected to double in the next 40 years. Food for thought.

Go on, become a Dementia Friend.