Welcome from Alzheimer’s Society Chief Executive, Jeremy Hughes

Photo of Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive Alzheimer's Society

Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive Alzheimer’s Society

Thank you very much for taking the time to visit the Dementia Friends website and this the project blog. I hope that having read a bit more about what we are trying to achieve, you will agree with me that this is a truly exciting prospect. Never before have we tried to bring together a million people behind the cause of creating a better life for people with dementia. But I have complete confidence that we are not only going to meet this ambitious target by 2015 but beat it.

During my time as Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Society I have been lucky enough to meet many amazing people with dementia. One of the things they have told me is how people don’t want their dementia to stop them doing the things they enjoy or the day to day things we all take for granted. Yet despite this I have also heard too many stories of people who no longer feel they can be part of their community. Instead they feel isolated and daunted by the prospect of doing things like going to the shop or taking part in a social group. One example I heard recently was from a carer who had been out shopping in a local supermarket with his wife who has dementia. As has always been the case, his wife was helping unpack the trolley while he packed the bags. Because of her dementia she became slightly confused. To the dismay of the carer, the response of the man behind her was to become irate and impatient, which put immense stress on his wife, to the point that she no longer felt comfortable carrying on with the task in hand.

Dementia Friends will prevent situations like this from happening. We want to ensure that if a person with dementia is struggling to sort out their change in a shop or navigate their way round a town centre that they are greeted with a helping hand rather than a turned back. Now, I know for a fact that most people would not intentionally want to exclude or ignore people with dementia. Rather they simply don’t know how they can help or don’t know how to spot the signs of dementia. After all people with dementia don’t wear a badge to let the world know they have the condition.

By empowering people with the know-how about dementia we hope they will feel confident around people with dementia. So in the supermarket I mentioned before, the impatient man would instead have realised that the confusion in front of him had been caused by dementia and instead could have offered to help with the unpacking or simply chosen not to become irate. These simple things can make all the difference.

Obviously the more people commit to doing the better life could be for people with dementia. I can’t wait to see what a difference we can all make. This is on top of the other amazing work that has come out of the Dementia Friendly Communities champion group which I chair with Angela Rippon. More on that later I’m sure. Now it’s your turn to play your part. Today we just need you to register your interest. By signing up, you will be the first to hear about when and how you can take the next step to becoming a Dementia Friend. It’s a small step to a big change.

13 thoughts on “Welcome from Alzheimer’s Society Chief Executive, Jeremy Hughes

  1. Keith Bucknall

    I am learning from an expert with a dementia, my 86 year old mum, who I live with and care for. I would hate to see all my learning wasted, so becoming a dementia friend makes complete sense. It’s an awful condition, it’s an epidemic , if we do not act now the consequences are grave. I am also keen to enable those with a dementia to live rich lives being able to have fun. Helping those seeking their deep rooted spirituality to reengage and discover afresh. With any medical condition, the person can become lost behind the labels, lets help sufferers and their supporters know that they are loved and not alone.

  2. Jackie Stanbridge

    I fully support this initiative and look forward to hearing more about it. I lost my lovely Mum on Sunday. She had both Alzheimer’s and Vascular Dementia. I have lived through this disease with her for the past 2 years and welcome this idea. I feel able to pass on my expeiences and know what would have made life easier for Mum. My passion, however, is to get more training into hospitals. To have people on elderly wards that understand. Unfortunately my mother also had brittle diabetes which was almost impossible to control and spent a great deal of time in hospital. The level of understanding from ward to ward and even from shift to shift differed dramatically with pressured nursing staff not having the time,patience or knowledge to deal with the challenges Mum sometimes presented. I hope I can make a difference.
    Jackie Stanbridge

    1. em

      Hi.I am 12 and I first heard about dementia when my nan found out about it afew months ago. I was very upset as i am very close to her. She has doesn’t recognise her own son and i’m worried she will forget about me. This is the first time i’ve told anyone about it and i suppose it is because i want life to be like it was before she got it.
      Now i want to make a difference. I am going to try and get everyone in my form to join dementia friends.
      Em Galaska

  3. Judy Johnston

    As a recently retired social worker I am so pleased to read about this new project – Dementia Friends. I have worked with countless people with dementia and their Carers over the years, and wholeheartedly agree that it is a much needed initiative. It has long been the case that people with physical disabilities can be helped to remain in their own homes ( Equipment, OT’s, Home Carers etc ) – but it is much more difficult for people with dementia . Services , especially in rural areas, are few and far between – and understanding of the condition, even among professionals needs promoting.
    I would like to see the ‘Friends’ used as links between the sufferers and the Professionals. Carers are not always able to fight someone’s corner, find out about services etc. Maybe they could be Pro-friends ?

  4. Stuart Carline

    I think that this is an excellent initiative.
    My late mother had vascular dementia. Much of her “unusual” behaviour in the early years was caused by fear as much as by confusion. She was fortunate to have an understanding family and network of friends who supported her.
    Her time in hospital was a bad experience for her and visitors alike. The nurses and staff were good people but were terribly overstretched and they could not provide anything but the basic level of care.
    The staff at the care home in which she spent her final years were excellent at both caring for her and educating us.
    However, I saw many other sufferers who did not have such strong support, for whatever reason. Anything that can help those with dementia and raise awareness with the general public is to be applauded and supported. I would encourage as many people as possible to become involved.

  5. Sue Charlton

    I fully support this initiative; it is a good step forward and will hopefully help everyone to become more aware of dementia and how best to support their local community.
    I ran a dementia awareness workshop earlier this week and it was fantastic to see the positivity that this generated amongst the participants. Each one of them felt empowered to go out and try and make a difference for those people with dementia and for those close to them.
    I will make them aware of this latest development and I hope that they will embrace this idea and that they may become future Dementia Friends.

  6. peter stanley

    I too agree that this is an excellent initiative . Having seen , and assisted where possible , numerous friends and acquaintances with dementia and seen the appalling effects when help was not at hand , in particular the effect on their carers , then any move such as this should be fully supported . Our local hospital , where I am fortunate in sitting on a patients panel , has also recently taken the initiative on this by monitoring elderly care . May I mention another factor , what about prevention ? Any views on this ; exercise , diet , stress reduction , mind activities , in fact any suggestions are always welcome .

  7. Glynis Benson

    I THINK THIS IS A IS A WONDERFUL PROJECT THAT CAN MAKE SUCH A DIFFERENCE TO PEOPLES LIVES.I HELPED CARE FOR MY STEP DAD FOR FIVE YEARS AND WAS THE MAIN CARER FOR MY MUM FOR A FURTHER FIVE YEARS SO HAVE VAST EXPERIENCE IN KNOWING HOW FRUSTRATING THIS DISEASE CAN BE FOR THE SUFFERER AND HOW HEARTBREAKING IT IS FOR THE CARER. I REMEMBER HOW GRATEFUL I WAS FOR THE HELP I RECEIVED FROM THE LOCAL ALZHEIMERS SOCIETY BY ‘SITTING’ WITH MUM FOR TWO HRS TWICE A WEEK IT MEANT I COULD GO TO THE HAIRDRESSER OR MEET UP WITH FRIENDS WITHOUT FEELING FEELING GUILTY FOR LEAVING HER OR WORRYING ABOUT HER SAFETY. NOW THAT THEY BOTH AT PEACE I WOULD FEEL HONOURED TO BE BE ABLE TO PASS ON MY EXPERIENCE AND REPAY SOME OF THE HELP I RECEIVED AND THROW SOMEONE A LIFELINE

  8. Sandra Horridge

    I am Main Carer for My Dad who is very fortunate and lives with me was diagnosed with Mixed Type Dementia a few years ago.
    To raise awareness and provide information of Dementia is so important not just to the person suffering with the condition but for their families and carers too.
    I am more aware of the condition and help My Dad to lead a normal life as possible within the community.
    From experience of the illness, how frustrating and heart breaking it can be to see how others treat people with Dementia, their families and carers too, there is definitely more help and support needed.
    Unfortunately there are so many people out there, some of whom deal with the elderly on a day to day basis who have no patience, knowledge or understanding of the condition.
    I welcome and fully support this initiative.

  9. LJUBLJANA

    My mum suffered with vascular dementia for many years. Unfortunately her worsening condition ultimately led to her having a tragic accident which led to her death. If I can do anything to help prevent the possibility of this happening to anyone else I most certainly will. Dementia must be better understood by everyone, including the medical profession, the time to act is now. This is a much needed initiative by Mr Cameron, let’s get behind it and make a difference to dementia sufferers and their families.

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  11. K.S.Rajani

    I am glad to be a part of this initiative.I have been active in Alzheimer’s Society of India since 1999.I am sure ideas from the others will help me help those in our community. In spite of the years of raising awareness that we have done, there are still instances where persons with very early-onset dementia are
    misunderstood–their behaviour making their near ones displeased with them.
    i am looking forward to reading more on the problems of Dementia.

  12. Susan Hodgson

    Hi
    The amount of knowledge & understanding that I have gained as a carer for my mother could be used to help other people with dementia their carers and other people . My mother has lots of good family support with strategies used to help make everyday life more managable for her and my father who is her main carer. I think to have someone able to give advice and guidance will be so helpful for everyone involved it could be the difference between coping or not coping. When a diagnosis is made it is a scary time for the person with dementia , family and friends, and support at all stages is needed . People with Dementia can still have a life ,even though there can be changes .Might not manage to cook, but with support doing this can still manage to do it herself which makes her feel good .
    I knew very little about Dementia before my Mam got it. Leaning how to support her while still letting Mam have control of her life and independence is so important to her .
    I think Dementia Friends is a wonderful way not lose the experience carers have but allow to gain more, and share it.

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