Guest post by Lisa Tyler of Senior Resources of West Michigan
As we age, our chances of getting a disease like dementia increases. More than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s Disease, the most prevalent form of dementia. In order to help people live well, and to increase understanding of what dementia is, for the past five years we’ve been promoting a social movement called Dementia Friends.
People with dementia sometimes need help going about their daily lives and to feel included in their communities. Dementia Friends works to give people an understanding of dementia, and the small things they can do to make a difference. It may be helping someone find something in a grocery store or spreading the word about dementia on social media or to friends and family – every action counts!
The Dementia Friends program focuses on five key messages that we believe everyone should know about dementia:
- Dementia is not a natural part of aging.
- Dementia is caused by diseases of the brain.
- It is not just about losing your memory.
- It’s possible to live well with dementia.
- There is more to the person than the dementia.
To become a Dementia Friend, a person needs to understand these five key messages and then commit to at least one dementia-friendly action. You become a Dementia Friend by attending a one-hour informational session to learn about this worldwide movement, about living with dementia, and the simple things you can do to support someone living with changes in thinking and memory. You do not need to be a dementia expert to become a Dementia Friend, nor do you need to know someone with dementia.
Senior Resources of West Michigan, the area agency on aging for Muskegon, Oceana and Ottawa counties, leads the Dementia Friends movement in our region. There are monthly 1-hour Dementia Friends sessions through Zoom, and trained Dementia Friends champions can also schedule sessions for groups, either in-person or via Zoom.
What is a Dementia Friends session like? You learn what dementia is, what it’s like to live with it, and some tips for communicating with people who have dementia. Everyone who attends is asked to turn their new understanding of dementia into a practical action that can help someone living in your community. The action can be as big or as small as you choose – every action counts!
To sign up for a session, email firstname.lastname@example.org. The next online session is Oct. 10 at 11 a.m.; others are Nov. 8 at 10 a.m. and Dec. 7 at 3 p.m. Volunteers are also available to offer group sessions at organizations or businesses. For more information, contact email@example.com or call 231-733-3509.
For anyone needing help caring for someone with dementia, contact our Options Counselors at 231-733-3585, email firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out a form on our website: https://seniorresourceswmi.org/care-options/. We also offer a variety of caregiving resources, which are also on our website.
About the Author
Lisa Tyler is the communications director for Senior Resources of West Michigan.