Dementia doesn’t just affect the person living with it – it affects entire families.
In the UK, there were around 850,000 people living with dementia in 2014. That number of people will rise to more than one million over the next nine years.
Dementia doesn’t discriminate and can affect anyone, regardless of background, education, lifestyle or status.
That could mean your mum or your dad, your aunt or your uncle, or even a close friend gets a diagnosis of dementia in the next few years.
I’ve picked out five quotes from some influential individuals that really made me think about the effect that dementia is having on so many people…and how we need to act now.
Wendy Mitchell was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s in 2014
“Remember, a diagnosis doesn’t mean you’re at the end of your journey with dementia – you’re at the start of a new journey and thinking positively and adapting to new ways will help make that journey more manageable.”
Whilst receiving a diagnosis of dementia may be devastating, it’s a chance for families and the person with dementia to work together and take action.
Wendy is a fantastic example of how you can live well with dementia. With her positive outlook she has gone on to achieve many things.
She is also heavily involved in spreading awareness of Alzheimer’s and how crucial research into dementia is.
You can read more about Wendy and her ‘ramblings’ here.
Bob DeMarco – Founder of Alzheimer’s Reading Room
“Rather than trying to bring the person with dementia back to reality, why not try to enter their reality.”
We are so easily caught up in our own busy lives that we struggle to connect with our loved ones on their level.
This is especially true when a loved one with dementia is reliving a memory of theirs, now. It’s really important to remember that what they are doing is right to them.
Although they may not be leaving in your ‘reality’, they will have a reason in their head for doing what they are doing.
Bob’s mother lived with Alzheimer’s and so knows the struggles of the disease first-hand. He set up Alzheimer’s Reading Room to educate and empower carers of people living with Alzheimer’s, and show them that they’re not alone.
Beth Britton – a campaigner on dementia in Britain
“You become a carer, but you don’t realise you’ve become a carer.”
You never feel like a carer for your loved one – you would do anything for them, anyway.
However, we’re now seeing an increase in this invisible army of carers. Carers UK estimate there are 6.5 million informal carers in the UK alone.
This invisible army often goes unnoticed. Along with increasing awareness of dementia comes the need for more awareness and appreciation of those looking after people living with dementia.
Beth looked after her father, who was diagnosed with vascular dementia. Her father passed away in 2012 and Beth now spends her time as a campaigner for ageing, health, social care and dementia, as well as writing and blogging.
You can read her blog here.
Kevin Whately – Actor and Alzheimer’s Society ambassador
“Dementia is often regarded as an embarrassing condition that should be hushed up and not spoken about.”
One of the things I have noticed from talking to people and listening to stories is that there is a serious lack of awareness.
People don’t understand dementia and because they don’t understand, there’s a stigma surrounding it. It’s very difficult to accept that a loved one is losing their memory when you don’t understand the ins and outs of what’s causing it.
That’s why research is so important – and Kevin Whately himself became an ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Society in 2007, raising awareness about their work.
Carey Mulligan – Actress and Alzheimer’s Society supporter
“Those with dementia are still people and they still have stories and they still have character and they’re all individuals and they’re all unique. And they just need to be interacted with on a human level.”
Dementia does not define a person – although it is a part of them, it’s their character and their individuality that makes them who they are. Dementia is also not a normal part of ageing.
We need to move away from this idea that dementia makes a person different in a negative way – they just need a little extra help and support.
Carey Mulligan is also a supporter of the Alzheimer’s Society after her grandmother’s diagnosis of the disease.
We’d love to know whether you’ve come across any quotes that have really stood out to you, leave a comment below with your thoughts.
Or maybe you want to share your own views on living with dementia?