If an old person is being portrayed in a TV drama or film they are usually typecast as someone who is very forgetful or acts a bit odd. When we get older – if we forget something – we refer to it as a “senior moment”.
We tend to lump all of this together and call it Alzheimers. But dementia is far more complex and there are other common forms such as vascular dementia. Dementia is no respecter of socio economic status or intelligence. You could be a university professor or a rocket scientist and still contract this illness.
It’s important to point out that dementia is not an inevitable part of ageing. And it can also affect younger people.
Thanks to organisations like Age UK we are seeing more positive role models of people in later life holding down jobs, living life to the full and breaking down the dementia stereotype of anyone over 75.
So why mention dementia at all. Surely that’s a negative thing in a blog that is about positive ageing?
I firmly believe that if someone does develop dementia, we can all take steps to improve the quality of life for them and more importantly for their primary carers.
It may start with some simple measures such as memory cafes and other opportunities for dementia sufferers and their carers to be able to socialise.
Or it could be by volunteering as a “dementia friend” we can relieve the burden placed on a carer (often elderly themselves and caring for a partner).
A Dementia Friend learns a little bit more about what it’s like to live with dementia and then turns that understanding into action – anyone of any age can be a Dementia Friend. It can start with helping someone to find the right bus to spreading the word about dementia on social media – every action counts.
It could simply be that we educate ourselves about what it is like to live with dementia either as a sufferer or a carer so that we can raise awareness and encourage community initiatives to help.
You will have this chance to action some of these points next week because it’s Dementia Awareness Week 18-24 May. The theme for 2015 is “Remember the Person”. Visit the following websites to learn more