Dementia Awareness Week 2017
As a company that works widely with individuals living with Dementia, Newcross is proud to actively support and promote Dementia Awareness Week, led by the Alzheimer’s Society.
Not a natural part of ageing, Dementia is a progressive disease that affects roughly 1 in 14 over 65s, and over 40,000 people under 65.
How is Newcross Getting Involved?
As a Dementia-friendly company, Newcross kick-started the week with a Dementia Friends session at Head Office in the quaint village of Berry Pomeroy in South Devon.
Led by Mark Story (Head of Learning & Development and Dementia Champion) a variety of team members attended the session and were subject to some beautiful analogies to enable an easier understanding of what it is like to live with Dementia.
A favourite of the session included a bookcase metaphor: imagine a bookcase next to an individual, with their earliest memories stored as books at the bottom of the case, and their freshest memories at the top. Now imagine that that case is being rocked back and forth. Books (memories) higher up in the bookcase are more likely to be dislodged and fall out, with those further down a little more secure.
Now imagine another bookcase on the other side of the individual. This one is a bit sturdier, maybe made of solid wood, so it is harder to rock and dislodge the memories.
These two bookcases represent factual memories and emotional memories.
Emotional memories are harder to dislodge. So although people living with Dementia might find it difficult to remember names and events, feeling associated with those events are likely to linger.
Realising these facts helps us to become more understanding and positive towards friends, family and people in the community who are experiencing the symptoms of Dementia.
That is why we would like to encourage you to sign up and become a Dementia Friend today.
We have several more sessions running at Head Office this month, and Newcross will also be running their very own Awareness Week in June – so watch this space. Please contact Kiersten Cornwall-Cook if you are in HQ and would like to attend a session.
What 5 things should we be aware of to improve understanding and promote Dementia-Friendly societies?
1. Dementia is not a natural part of ageing
Dementia is separate from the occasional forgetfulness that we all experience at some point, especially as we get older. There are a wide array of symptoms, not just memory loss, and can occur in younger individuals, although it’s more prevalent in the over 65s.
2. Dementia is caused by diseases of the brain
There are over 100 types of dementia and a huge variety of causes. For example, Alzheimer’s disease causes the death of nerve cells within the brain, disrupting signals and preventing messages being passed along from cell to cell.
Vascular Dementia refers to difficulties with the blood supply to the brain, resulting in some areas becoming starved of oxygen and consequently, strokes.
These different types of Dementia progress in different ways, dependent on the cause. An individual with Alzheimer’s may experience gradual and consistent progression, whereas someone with Vascular Dementia might experience progression of the disease in a ‘stepped’ way.
3. It’s not just about losing your memory
Although Dementia often affects short-term memory, to begin with (see earlier bookcase analogy), there are a variety of different symptoms associated with Dementia.
- Difficulties concentrating, planning and organising
- Problems with day to day tasks such as following recipes or budgeting for the shops
- Language and communication complications, such as forgetting words or keeping track
- Perception struggles – such as judging distances
- Mood changes and difficulty controlling emotions
4. People can still live well with Dementia
Living with Dementia doesn’t mean you are suddenly incapable of everyday tasks, and in fact, many are still able to live at home with loved ones.
You can take steps to help slow the progression of Dementia symptoms, so seeing a GP in the first instance is imperative in order to allow action to be taken.
There are drugs available to slow, or even stop the progression of some types Dementia for a little while. You can also take steps to improve cognitive stimulation through activities such as crossword puzzles or keeping up to date with the news. Sharing memories, scrapbooking and creating a ‘life story book’ can also help with the symptoms of Dementia.
Physical activity is similarly important, helping to promote mental health, boost memory and improve self-esteem.
5. There is more to a person than Dementia
You don’t think of someone with Cancer or Diabetes as the illness, and it should be the same for those living with Dementia. There is a unique individual behind each face, and sometimes we just need that reminder that that person has had a full and interesting life, and may have some very exciting stories to share!
Find more information about these steps here.
After the Dementia Friends session at Head Office, Berry Pomeroy
From Left to Right: Steve Willis (Head of Finance), Mark Story (Head of Learning and Development), Lauren Praill (Nurse Recruiter), Tracy O’Kennedy (Front, HR Director), Carina Goss (Finance Apprentice), Kiersten Cornwall-Cook (Learning and Development Coordinator), Kayleigh Godfrey (Purchase Ledger Assistant), Wendy Browse (Nurse Recruiter), Dale Carkeek (Learning and Development Specialist).