Dementia Friends

You cannot explain what it’s like to mourn someone who is still alive unless you have experienced it first-hand.

– Jessica Seay Soto

Dementia Friends is a special organisation founded for the purpose of increasing awareness of dementia within the community.  At Bennett Griffin, Ian Macara and who are members of our Care, Capacity and Court of Protection team are trained and accredited by the Alzheimer’s Society to facilitate Dementia Friends information sessions.  In addition, we are proud of the fact that most of our staff are trained Dementia Friends.

What is Dementia Friends?

Modern medicine provides enormous advantages, the most obvious being longer lifespans.  But, true to the laws of nature, there is a corresponding downside to this positive development.  As people live longer, age-related diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and osteoporosis become more prevalent.

Then there is dementia.

According to the Alzheimer’s Society, there are approximately 850,000 people with dementia in the UK today, with numbers set to rise to over one million by 2025. This will soar to two million by 2051[1].

In addition, there are over 40,000 people under 65 years suffer from dementia.

Dementia Friends[2] is an Alzheimer’s Society initiative to bring awareness of dementia and alter the publics’ perception of the disease.  The scheme has been a phenomenal success; there are now over two million dementia friends across England and Wales with a greater understanding of dementia and some of the ways they can help people living with the condition in their communities.

What is dementia?

Dementia is not a disease in itself.  Rather, it is the name given to a collection of disorders that can occur when brain cells stop working properly.  The disorder is progressive, and affects the suffers ability to remember things, reason and think.

The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease.

How do the symptoms of dementia manifest themselves?

The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include:

  • memory loss – especially problems with memory for recent events, such as forgetting messages, remembering routes or names, and asking questions repetitively
  • increasing difficulties with tasks and activities that require organisation and planning
  • becoming confused in unfamiliar environments
  • difficulty finding the right words
  • difficulty with numbers and/or handling money in shops
  • changes in personality and mood
  • depression

Because the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are mild at first, family and friends may not take them too seriously at first.  However, the earlier medical help is sought, the easier it can be to plan for and manage your day to day life, as unfortunately, dementia usually becomes worse over time.

Advanced dementia

As dementia progresses, the symptoms outlined above become worse.  The patient may start to neglect their health and well-being and become violent to those who try and help them.  They may fail to recognise family, even their children and find it impossible to understand basic instructions.

Later Life Planning

Many of us fear old age and being struck down with dementia, but thanks to organisations such as Dementia Friends, there is a wealth of support and understanding for sufferers, within the healthcare system and community.

Speaking to a solicitor about creating a Will and Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) can provide comfort in knowing your affairs are in order should you lose mental capacity.  In addition, taking professional advice on protecting your property and wealth, should you need to go into a care home, can help protect your assets and allow you to pass them onto future generations.

Becoming a Dementia Friend

Anyone can become a Dementia Friend.  All it requires is the investment of a little time to find out what dementia is and how it affects a person and their family.  Then, armed with this knowledge, doing small everyday things that help. For example, being patient in a shop queue, or spending time with someone you know who is living with dementia.

To find out more about Dementia Friends of Later Life Planning, call Ian (01903 706956) or Elin (01903 706981).  They would be happy to answer any questions you have.

Bennett Griffin is an award winning solicitors based in West Sussex with offices in central Worthing and Ferring.  Our experienced and specialist solicitors offer a comprehensive service and will work with you in an honest, considered, and practical manner.  Please contact us on 01903 229 999 or by email at info@bennett-griffin.co.uk for more information.

The information contained in this article is for general guidance only and is not intended to be legal advice. Professional advice should always be taken on the application of the law in any particular situation.

[1] https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/info/20027/news_and_media/541/facts_for_the_media

[2] https://www.dementiafriends.org.uk/