Today marks the start of Dementia Action Week (20 – 26 May 2019) and this year, individuals and communities are being encouraged to take action by starting a conversation with someone that they know who is living with dementia, to reduce isolation and loneliness.
The Alzheimer’s Society say that research has shown that many people are worried about ‘saying the wrong thing’ to people living with dementia and that despite almost all of us knowing someone affected, two-thirds of people living with dementia report feeling isolated and lonely.
They have teamed up with people affected by dementia to give the best tips for getting a conversation started:
- ‘Talk to me, smile, be a little patient and give me time to reply.’
- ‘A simple ‘hello’, ask about the weather, anything that you feel comfortable with.’
- ‘Just be yourself and yes, we will make mistakes but it’s ok to laugh along with us.’
- ‘I love it when people ask me questions. It gives me an opportunity to show that people with dementia exist, that we can still contribute to things going on around us and that life goes on. It makes me feel good. It makes me feel like me again’
- ‘Just don’t ask if I remember.’
- ‘Don’t be afraid. All it takes is a conversation to see we’re still us.’
To reduce the fear about ‘saying the wrong thing’ our dementia carer support workers at the Carers Leeds Dementia Hub encourage people to learn more about why communication is more difficult for someone who is living with dementia. We know that the brain is very complex and also very clever. We spend years building up our knowledge stores about the world that we live in and everything in it and learning all of the personal skills that enable us to function in every day society.
Dementia causes damage to these knowledge stores and the networks along which all of these bits of knowledge travel. The damage to the knowledge stores can mean that communicating information accurately is much more difficult and the damage to the networks mean that the brain has to work a lot harder and therefore this can make communication take much more time.
If you want to find out more about our support, information about our training courses or for literature about communicating with someone who is living with dementia, please call the our dementia hub on 0113 380 4300.
This Dementia Action Week lets all work together to have more conversations and to reduce isolation and loneliness within our communities. You are welcome to join us at any of the events we have lined up throughout the week. Full details are here: www.carersleeds.org.uk/tag/daw2019/
Dawn Perkins, Dementia Carer Support Worker