To mark World Alzheimer’s Day, St Andrew’s Healthcare has today launched a new social media campaign aimed at educating people on how to make communities more dementia friendly. It’s the first in a four-part series launched by the Charity aimed at tackling the stigma attached to complex and enduring mental health conditions.
The #LetsTalkAbout ‘Dementia’ film, features clinical psychologist Dr Inga Stewart, and explores simple things people can do to help people live well with dementia.
“Often in popular culture we’re given the impression that receiving a diagnosis of dementia is the end of the world. But people with dementia do have value, and do give back,” Dr Stewart explains.
“We all have a role to play in both tackling some of the stigma attached to this diagnosis, and supporting those with dementia to live a life worth living.”
Dr Stewart says there are four simple things we can all do to make our communities more dementia friendly:
1. Be patient – give people time to complete tasks, such as paying for food in shops, even if you’re in a hurry.
2. Be supportive – think about appropriate ways you may be able to help someone who is looking confused or struggling.
3. Be respectful – help those living with dementia to maintain their dignity.
4. Be mindful of language - avoid using terms such as ‘dementia sufferer’ or ‘suffering with dementia’ as these can be stigmatising and isolating and contribute to the belief that someone living with dementia has no value to society.
Dr Stewart also has advice for families and carers who are supporting someone living with dementia:
“If you’re supporting somebody living with dementia then it can be quite isolating, particularly if you don’t feel that your community is dementia friendly. But the good news is that there are many things we can do to support someone to live well with dementia, these include keeping a routine, and slowing down communication so you give the person with dementia time to understand what you’re saying.”
“One of the consequences of dementia is that someone might start to lose their identity. If you feel like that is happening, a gift that we can give is to hold that identity for them. Using things like a life story book will help have a record of who that person is. This helps people to see the real person behind the dementia.”
Dementia is an umbrella term which is used to describe hundreds of diseases which affect the brain; these diseases are progressive in nature and they’re not a normal part of ageing. There are currently more than 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia and 42,000 of them are under the age of 65.
In the lead up to World Mental Health Day on October 10th, St Andrew’s will also be launching three more films looking at the stigma associated at other complex mental health conditions such as schizophrenia, Borderline Personality Disorder and PTSD. Follow the campaign across social and share our content on by using #LetsTalk, and together we can break the stigma.