Drunk and disorderly? Think again.
If you were to ever see me out and about with my stepdad, you might notice that he’s a little unsteady on his feet. You might think it odd that he can’t quite work out how to get through a shop door, or back out again. And if you spoke to him, you might notice him slurring his words, not quite managing to get a sentence out, and certainly not in the right order.
Now you’d be forgiven for thinking he’d had a few too many pints at lunchtime, but he’s actually got mixed dementia. This means he has Vascular Dementia, and Alzheimer’s rolled into one. It’s a cruel disease which affects not only my step-dad, but those around him.
Every 3 seconds someone in the world develops dementia
Although you can’t see dementia, it’s more prevalent than you might think. There’s 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK right now. In fact, one in fourteen people over 65 has dementia at any one time. And it’s predicted that by 2051, they’ll be nearly 2 million people living with the condition. Nearly everyone we know will know someone affected by dementia, so understanding the disease and supporting those living with it is important to everyone.
That’s why The Alzheimer’s Society created Dementia Friends. It’s a nation-wide information programme which hopes to change and challenge people’s perceptions of dementia, altering the way we think, acts and talk about the condition. Stigma and lack of understanding cause many people with dementia to experience loneliness and social exclusion, so Dementia Friends hopes to tackle this by creating more communities that are dementia-friendly and more inclusive of people affected by dementia.
I’m a volunteer Dementia Friends Champion. Champions like me are trained by the Alzheimer’s Society to run free Dementia Friends Information Sessions to local communities and businesses.
Find your nearest session here, and start helping to create dementia-friendly communities!