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We hear from Erik, who since becoming a Dementia Friend has been inspired to make changes in his professional work at a care home group, and in his personal life.

“During my time at the Future Care Group, I was presented with the humbling opportunity to forge connections with individuals living with dementia. Each of them, in their unique ways, touched my life and taught me valuable lessons about resilience, empathy, and the enduring power of the human spirit. Seeing them struggle with the complexities of their condition, yet carrying on with an undeniable zest for life, has been a driving force behind my decision to become a Dementia Friend with the Alzheimer's Society.

“Becoming a Dementia Friend is a testament to my commitment to this cause. It goes beyond being a professional endeavour; it's a personal mission. My aspiration is to contribute positively to the lives of those living with dementia, and to support those who love and care for them.

What becoming a Dementia Friend has taught me

“Being a Dementia Friend has been an enlightening journey that has taught me numerous invaluable lessons.

“Firstly, I've learned about the complexity and diversity of dementia as a condition. It's not solely about memory loss, as many tend to believe. Each individual's experience with dementia is unique, involving a variety of symptoms that can impact thinking, behaviour, and emotion.

“Secondly, I've gained a deeper understanding of the challenges that individuals living with dementia and their families face daily. Navigating the health and social care system, coping with the societal stigma, and handling the practicalities of everyday life can be daunting tasks. This has taught me the importance of patience, empathy, and understanding in providing support and care.

“Moreover, my time as a Dementia Friend has highlighted the power of community in creating a dementia-friendly society. It's not solely the responsibility of healthcare professionals; everyone can make a difference, from neighbours to local businesses. Small actions, like being patient in a shop queue or providing clear directions, can have a significant positive impact.

What differences I’ve made since becoming a Dementia Friend

“Since becoming a Dementia Friend, my understanding and empathy towards those living with dementia has significantly deepened, prompting me to leverage my role at the Future Care Group to make a meaningful difference in their lives. My experiences have compelled me to take practical steps towards creating an environment that truly caters to the needs and enhances the wellbeing of our residents living with dementia.

“One such initiative that I have been inspired to lead is the creation and management of a sensory garden within our care home. I have learned that sensory stimulation can be therapeutic for individuals with dementia, often helping to evoke positive memories, promote relaxation, and enhance their overall mood. Our sensory garden incorporates a variety of plants with different textures, colours, and scents, along with tactile elements like wind chimes and water features. It's a tranquil space where residents can engage their senses, enjoy the outdoors, and find peace and comfort.

“I have been committed to making our overall environment more enabling for those with dementia. I've planned changes to the decor, signage, and layout of our care home to make it easier for residents to navigate and feel comfortable in their surroundings. We will introduce clear and simple signs, and familiar decorative elements to foster a sense of familiarity and security.

Supporting Alzheimer’s Society

“Indeed, reflecting on my journey as a Dementia Friend and my experiences at the Future Care Group, I feel motivated to continue to support the Alzheimer's Society in additional ways. Fundraising and volunteering are fantastic opportunities to further contribute to this cause that is so close to my heart.

“I fondly recall participating in Alzheimer’s Society’s Memory Walk in Portsmouth a few years ago. The energy, solidarity, and shared commitment among all participants was genuinely inspiring. It wasn't just about raising funds but also about raising awareness and promoting understanding of dementia within the community.

“In addition to the Memory Walk, I am keen to explore other fundraising activities. Be it through charity runs, bake sales, or creating fundraising events within our care home, every pound raised will contribute towards the invaluable work the Alzheimer's Society does.

Recommending others to become a Dementia Friend

“I would wholeheartedly recommend becoming a Dementia Friend to my colleagues, friends and family members. It has been a life-changing experience for me, providing invaluable insights and empathy towards those living with dementia.

“I would say to them, "Becoming a Dementia Friend is more than just understanding a condition. It's about changing how you view dementia, breaking down stigma, and realising that behind every diagnosis is a person with a unique story. We all have a role to play in creating a dementia-friendly society, and even the smallest actions can make a significant difference.”

“I've seen first-hand how small changes in our environment and attitudes can significantly improve the quality of life for those living with dementia. As a Dementia Friend, you will gain knowledge that not only helps you understand dementia but also equips you to make those around you more aware.

“It’s a commitment to respect and kindness, to looking beyond the condition and seeing the person. You will also learn practical ways to help, be it by supporting a loved one living with dementia, or simply by being patient and understanding when you encounter someone living with the condition in your day-to-day life.

“In summary, I would encourage anyone considering becoming a Dementia Friend to go ahead and make that commitment. The impact you can have on the lives of those living with dementia, and their families, is immeasurable. And the impact it will have on you is equally profound.”

Feeling inspired? Join Erik and become a Dementia Friend here.