For many people the ‘D’ word is still taboo, a subject to be feared and hidden away – but I believe that only makes the condition harder to deal with; yet more terrifying.
That’s why I applaud the Alzheimer’s Society for making ‘talking’ the theme of this year’s Dementia Awareness Week, May 19 to 25.
As the new home manager of Parker Meadows Care Home in Fareham I know that people living with dementia and their families need all the love and support they can get, and that increases tenfold when we share our experiences with each other.
In recent years there has been a huge leap forward in the understanding of dementia-based illnesses and how to communicate with people who are living with the condition.
The more we can talk to each other about these advances the better we will be at helping those living with the condition enjoy a better quality of life.
Just because someone is living with dementia doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t enjoy their life and have fun.
With a little thought and creativity there is much we can do to make life enjoyable. The use of music, art, and imagery to trigger old cherished memories – often the last thing to go with the illness – can all bring joy to someone with dementia.
In a former life I served as a Lieutenant Commander in the Royal Navy, spending more than 15 years on submarines – I was actually once based just down the road at the former HMS Collingwood. That same spirit of sharing, co-operation and talking is what I encourage here. It’s by working in this way that we can provide the care and compassion that our elderly residents deserve.