Show you care this Dementia Awareness Week

It is 40 years since Alzheimer Scotland was first founded to help people living with dementia.

Growing number...five years after it was established, 90,000 people had signed up to become Dementia Friends in Scotland. You can join them online today.
Growing number...five years after it was established, 90,000 people had signed up to become Dementia Friends in Scotland. You can join them online today.

There were plans this year to celebrate that milestone.

Sadly, the coronavirus lockdown meant the charity had no option but to put those plans on hold.

However, Alzheimer Scotland is hoping people in communities across Scotland will mark Dementia Awareness Week, which runs from June 1 to 7.

Alzheimer Scotland is calling on people to take part in Dementia Awareness Week 2020, despite the lockdown.

It is being used as an opportunity to highlight and support the 90,000 people living with dementia in Scotland, as well as their families and carers.

And the message from the charity is loud and clear: Alzheimer Scotland is still here for you, working hard to ensure nobody faces dementia alone.

Marri Welsh, the charity’s head of communications and marketing, said: “Lockdown has been challenging for many of the people we support.

“However, our staff are doing all they can to make sure local services remain in place to help minimise the impact and to make sure people living with dementia continue to have access to the support they need.”

Alzheimer Scotland has adapted its work, boosting its freephone dementia helpline capacity – 0808 808 3000 – which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Staff are also hosting online support groups, digital reminiscence therapy sessions and virtual dementia advisor ‘visits’ to ensure that no one is facing the crisis alone.

Calling for readers to play their part, Marri said: “If you have the chance to get involved in any way, online or in person, please support Dementia Awareness Week by following the conversation on social media using the hashtag #DementiaAwareness.

“Please also reach out to people in your community who are living with dementia and their carers.”

The charity is promoting a number of ways for people to get involved this week.

One of the best ways to champion the cause is to become a dementia friend.

In November last year, Alzheimer Scotland reached a major milestone – 90,000 friends, one for every person living with the condition across the country.

Henry Simmons, chief executive of Alzheimer Scotland, said: “When we introduced the Dementia Friends initiative to Scotland in 2014 we could never have imagined we would have reached 90,000 Dementia Friends in just five years.

“It is simply remarkable that so many people in Scotland have become a Dementia Friend.

“Each and every one of them is playing their part in building a dementia-friendly Scotland and sending a message of support to those who are living with dementia that they care about them.

“It is reassuring, but not surprising, that so many individuals throughout Scotland are willing to make their mark by becoming a Dementia Friend.

“When we ask the Scottish public for their support, they never, ever let us down.”

While face to face sessions in communities are not possible just now, you can become a Dementia Friend online at www.alzscot.org/dementiafriends.

There’s another way to show you care during this extra special week too.

Marri explained: “Right now too many people with advanced dementia are not getting the health care support they need.

“It is time to make fair dementia care in Scotland a reality so we’re calling on people to support our campaign at www.alzscot.org/fairdementiacare.”

The Fair Dementia Care Commission, established by Alzheimer Scotland, published the Delivering Fair Dementia Care For People With Advanced Dementia report, which set out a firm definition of advanced dementia for the first time.

It also identified the inequality people living with advanced dementia face accessing health care.

Through the report the Fair Dementia Care Commission calls for a number of reforms, including equal access to free healthcare for people living with advanced dementia.

Marri added: “This could make a real difference to the lives of people living with dementia and their carers, many of whom are at crisis point and rely on Alzheimer Scotland as a lifeline.

“Additional help will also go a long way to supporting our local frontline services across Scotland.”

You can help the charity fund its life-changing work across the country. To lend your support visit www.alzscot.org/donate.

Decorate a forget-me-not

Alzheimer Scotland is the country’s foremost voluntary organisation working for people with dementia and their carers. The charity focuses its efforts in the following ways:

Speaking out for the rights and concerns of people with dementia and their carers;

Providing support across Scotland by offering practical services such as day, evening and weekend befriending and carers support services;

Staffing 21 Dementia Resource Centres;

Providing a 24-hour national freephone dementia helpline on 0808 808 3000;

Supporting the Scottish Dementia Working Group and the National Dementia Carers Action Network;

Establishing a network of dementia advisors;

Employing dementia nurse and professional health programmes;

Publishing leaflets, booklets, reports and a quarterly newsletter to keep carers and professionals up-to-date;

Operating a Dementia Research Centre with the University of Edinburgh, a Centre for Policy and Practice at the University of the West of Scotland and a strategic alliance with Queen Margaret University to research and improve practice, while searching for a cure.

Henry Simmons has recorded a short video message to dedicate Dementia Awareness Week 2020 to people with dementia and their families.

He said: “This will be a different Dementia Awareness Week than we’re all used to.

“However, we want to use the seven days to let people know that we’re still here.”

Supporters are being asked to print, decorate and display a forget-me-not in their windows at home. The flower can be downloaded at www.alzscot.org/dementia-awareness-week-2020.