A year ago today (Thursday 19 February) Alzheimer’s Society launched its award-winning Dementia Friends initiative in Wales. On its first anniversary, the charity is calling on people across the country to join the 8,000 Dementia Friends who have already joined the movement to breakdown the stigma of a condition that affects 45,000 people in Wales.
Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends initiative aims to make everyday life better for people with dementia and is this country’s biggest ever project to change the way the nation thinks, talks and acts when it comes to the condition. In the first year over 8,000 people in Wales have become Dementia Friends whilst a further 308 have taken a further step to become a Dementia Friends Champion.
A Dementia Friends Champion runs Friends’ information sessions for people in their personal networks or communities. They do this after participating in the one-day Dementia Friends Champions’ training run by Alzheimer’s Society.
Chella Borde, Alzheimer’s Society Regional Support Officer for Dementia Friends in Wales, said:
‘The level of support for Dementia Friends in Wales has been overwhelming. In the first year alone we have created over 8,100 Dementia Friends and hundreds more Champions. Members of the public, staff from the emergency services as well businesses and other organisations across Wales have all signed up to the initiative and we hope many more will follow in their footsteps.’
‘Through Dementia Friends, we can all understand a bit more about what it is like to live with dementia and the small things that help those with the condition. It is easy and free to become a Dementia Friend. Everyone in Wales has a role to play.’
At the end of a Dementia Friends session people are encouraged to turn their understanding into action. Actions don’t have to be time-consuming. Examples have included:
- behaving patiently with someone showing the signs of dementia
- spending more time with, helping or supporting a friend or relative affected by dementia
- signposting people affected by dementia to more information and support
- helping your workplace to be more dementia-friendly
- telling other people about Dementia Friends or spreading the word through social media.
Mary Thomas was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2010. The 60-year-old from Cardiff regularly attends the Ty Hapus day service in Barry which is specifically designed to support younger people with dementia. She said:
‘People assume that if you’ve got dementia that’s it, that you can’t do anything yourself, and you’re helpless. That’s not true. There’s a lot of bad stigma around dementia and it’s not fair. The more people that understand; the better things will be.
‘People can lose patience and be rude, but Dementia Friends can help people understand that just because someone’s got dementia, they’re not stupid, they might just need a little bit of help.’
The anniversary of Dementia Friends comes shortly after the team behind the initiative won the Class award for best communications in the 2014 Third Sector Awards Cymru.
To find out more about Dementia Friends, or to sign up, please visit dementiafriends.org.uk
- Dementia Friends is an Alzheimer’s Society initiative supported by Welsh Government
- 225,000 will develop dementia this year, that’s one every three minutes
- Alzheimer’s Society research shows that 45,000 people in Wales have a form of dementia. In less than ten years a million people will be living with dementia in the UK. This will soar to two million people by 2051
- Dementia costs the UK economy over £26 Billion per year. This is the equivalent of more than £30,000 per person with dementia.
- Alzheimer’s Society champions the rights of people living with dementia and the millions of people who care for them
- Alzheimer’s Society works in England, Wales and Northern Ireland
- Alzheimer’s Society supports people to live well with dementia today and funds research to find a cure for tomorrow. We rely on voluntary donations to continue our vital work. You can donate now by calling 0845 306 0898 or visiting alzheimers.org.uk
- For confidential advice, information and support, call Alzheimer’s Society’s National Dementia Helpline on 0300 222 11 22. The service is open seven days a week, with trained advisers who understand the needs of people affected by dementia. You can also email enquiries to [email protected]