Valley Friends April Report

From Joan Steel

This month our speaker was Nano Mulligan who explained how to become a Dementia Friend and join the UK’s biggest ever initiative to change the way people think, act, and talk about dementia.  Nano is a volunteer trainer and gives talks lasting 45 to 60 minutes, followed by an interactive session and questionnaire in which we all took  part.

The initiative for this project was started in 2013 and has now two million supporters, including the former Prime Minister and several Cabinet Ministers. The target is to gain four million supporters by 2020.  Everything is entirely voluntary and together people are creating dementia-friendly communities where everyone in their daily lives can have an understanding of somebody who is supporting a person with dementia, and can be aware how the dementia person may need assistance, eg counting change in a shop or crossing the road etc.

All the symptoms of dementia seem to be negative, eg lack of ability, loss of memory, disorientation frustration etc.  The programme tries to reduce the stigma of living with dementia, increasing the awareness of the community can improve living there.

There are two types of dementia which is important to know when supporting a person; vascular dementia is the most familiar.  It is progressive and the downward curve is gradual.  In the second type the progression is different, and it can plateau, then there can be instant loss of ability to do something eg to walk, there is short term memory loss and motor skills go, behaviour becomes irrational, communicating becomes a problem, but feelings and emotions are expressed better than words.  Vision can be affected such that a dark coloured floor may look like a pool of water, or lines look like snakes.

Nano ended her talk by reminding us of five key messages:
1) Dementia is not a natural part of ageing
2) It is caused by diseases of the brain
3) It is not just about losing your memory – it can affect thinking communicating and doing everyday tasks
4) It is possible to live well with dementia
5) There is more to a person than the dementia, and they are living with dementia not suffering from dementia.

Nano was warmly thanked for making us aware of this very caring and helpful initiative in which we can all take part.

Our next meeting is on May 5th at 8pm It is a Valuation Evening.  Please bring an item that you would like to have valued by Barrie Twyman of Amersham Auction Rooms.

Our Evening Ramble will be on Wed May 17th.