What is a Dementia Friend?
A Dementia Friend is someone who has learned a little bit more about what it’s like to live with dementia. They use that understanding to help people with dementia that they meet during the course of their normal, daily activities. Check out this video from Scotland to get a feeling for the program:
This concept appears to have originated in the United Kingdom and seems to be quite successful. The Dementia Friendly America team is actively working on the adaptation of the program for use locally and the Santa Clara County Department of Aging and Adult Services team will work with them to implement it here when it is available.
In the mean time, starting with yesterday’s meeting, the Santa Clara County team has already begun to work on them on the implementation of the current dementia related Tools and Resources in our community.
The video above came from the Alzheimer Scotland site. It has a wonderful collection of short training videos that help you understand how to help someone with dementia. Reviewing them confirmed my impression that working to help those with dementia will also work to help those who are dealing with issues related aging or disabilities.
- Dementia is not a natural part of aging.
Dementia is caused by changes to the structure and chemistry of the brain and dementia doesn’t just affect older people.
- Dementia is cause by diseases of the brain.
The most common is Alzheimer’s disease. This changes the chemistry and structure of the brain, causing the brain cells to die. Whatever type of dementia a person has, everyone will experience the condition in their own way. How it affects them over time is unique to the individual – their own attitude, relationships with others and surroundings will all have an impact.
- It’s not just about losing your memory.
People often associate dementia with memory loss. But dementia can also affect the way people think, speak, perceive things, feel and behave. There’s no known cure for dementia, but there are ways to help with symptoms and make life better at every stage. The more we understand about the condition, the more we can do to help people stay independent and live the life they want for as long as possible.
- It’s possible to live well with dementia.
Scientists and researchers are working hard to find a cure for dementia. There are medications available that may help with some types of dementia and stop symptoms progressing for a while. This is one reason it’s important to go to the doctor as soon as you suspect there’s a problem. People with dementia can also benefit from approaches that don’t involve drugs. Keeping as active as possible – physically, mentally and socially – can really help. It can boost memory and self-esteem and help avoid depression.
- There’s more to a person than the dementia.
Living with dementia is challenging. When someone is diagnosed, their plans for the future might change. They may need help and support with everyday tasks or to keep doing the activities they enjoy. But dementia doesn’t change who they are. With the right support, it is possible for someone with dementia to live well and get the best out of life.