At any one time one in fourteen people will develop symptoms of dementia, meaning all of us are likely to at some stage in our lives come into contact with someone affected by it.
Elizabeth Taylor from Dementia Friends enlightened us at Normal? Festival to some of the myths and misconceptions that have built up around dementia, and offered practical advice as to how we might help. Some of her stories of people's experience were unexpected. I for one did not realise that the large black doormats, so prevalent in shops, have sometimes posed a real fear for patients she has worked with: they imagine they will fall into a dark hole! I'm sure many of us remember as a child not walking on the lines of the pavement for that same reason, as in A.A Milnes poem ‘Between the Lines’. Elizabeth describes dementia as a bookcase of the crappy MDF sort, each shelf representing a decade, with the most recent years on top. When someone shakes the bookcase, the most recent books and memories fall first.
People can live well with dementia, so why is it still such a taboo subject? Dementia Friends aims to encourage positive steps, small things that make a huge difference. It reminds me of the words of the poet Rumi - ‘drive slowly, some of us walking alongside are lame’. Often, we cease to see the person and define them by the disease. Elizabeth's example is of Mabel, who loves gardening and has “green fingers” also enjoying baking amazing cakes. So why is it that when people talk of her she is just Mabel with dementia? If we can take one positive from the talk and be a dementia friend it must be ‘Please Don't Label Mabel!’. (SE)
- Sandra Elkins
Links Relevant to This Diagnosis:
Dementia Friends - https://www.dementiafriends.org.uk
Age UK – Help and Support for Dementia
A Walk Through Dementia - http://www.awalkthroughdementia.org
Share the Orange - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9MvEZskR6o