Push for people to become a dementia friend at Christmas

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CHRISTMAS can be a confusing time of the year – something a Fareham firefighter has experience of.

Gary Elson’s mother Phyllis was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2012, and died just before Christmas last year.

He said: ‘Christmas isn’t an easy time of year for people living with dementia and their families.

‘There is a lot of change in surroundings at Christmas, with decorations being put up around the house.

‘And mum used to want to use older decorations, like candles, as Christmas tree lights. As a firefighter, there was no way I was going to let her do that.

‘On Christmas Day, mum was giving presents back to the people that had given them to her the year before because she was getting a bit mixed up.

‘At the time I did not know enough about dementia and perhaps I could have treated her differently if I knew back then what I know now.’

Mr Elson is a dementia friend champion, and the Alzheimer’s Society and Public Health England are calling on more people sign up.

A dementia friend is someone who has learnt a bit more about what it is like to have dementia, and small ways to support someone living with the condition.

A new guide has been published and contains tips on how best to support people with dementia at Christmas at home and away.

To find out more, visit alzheimers.org.uk/christmasguide