WITH the start of the Strictly Live Tour about to spin into action, it dawned on me that the cult show is actually a perfect metaphor for how to help a friend or relative with dementia.
The two may seem to have very little in common, but if you know someone with dementia then think again because you can do what the stars do for that person: stay calm, smile, have fun, help them get some exercise, and have a good time.
Being a ‘Dementia Friend’ means getting people talking and making them feel included. Strictly certainly does that. It’s a show everyone loves and talks about, from children to grandparents and everyone in between.
And anyone can become a ‘Dementia Friend’. People with dementia just need a little patience, a bit of extra time and a kind word.
With an aging population the number of people with dementia is growing. Currently 375,000 people in England have a diagnosis of dementia out of the 683,000 estimated to have the condition.
NHS England, in parallel with the Prime Minister’s challenge on dementia, has an ambition that two thirds of people with dementia will have a diagnosis and post diagnostic support by March this year.
Working closely with GPs we are trying hard to help those people.
And there are two things we want the public to do for us. Firstly, if you think you may have signs or symptoms of dementia – visit your GP.
There are drugs which can help to slow the process and a timely diagnosis can make a significant difference to the quality of a patient’s life and the support they and their carer receives.
It can also help the person make decisions about their future and receive appropriate financial benefits. And if they sign up to help research projects it can help us to change the future for others.
And secondly, sign up to become a ‘Dementia Friend’. It’s not about volunteering or donating money but finding out how to make life a bit better for somebody with dementia.
See www.dementia friends.org.uk/.