The dementia friend scheme looks to reach one million people in the UK by 2015 and aims to raise awareness about a condition affecting around 800,000 people in the country. The initiative offers free information sessions exploring what it feels like to live with the condition.
These volunteer led sessions will take place in town halls and work places around the country to “change the way the nation thinks, talks and acts.”
Jo Brand and Meera Syal took part in one of the very first sessions, which involved a game of dementia fact bingo and various tests of their memory relating to everyday objects.
One test asked participants to recall features of a one-penny coin – shockingly most could only recollect two features. With one in three people over the age of 65 expected to develop the condition, this highlights a growing concern.
The leader of the session, Laura Robinson, has said the exercises are all designed to help people learn more about the condition and see what it feels like to forget everyday things we take for granted.
Prime Minister David Cameron announced the initiative plans towards the end of last year, admitting that the nation’s awareness of the condition was “shockingly low”.
Meera Syal was keen to join the initiative after a relative of her’s developed the condition. Jo Brand worked as a psychiatric nurse before becoming a comedian and says her professional experience of dementia made her see just how isolating the condition can be.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said, “I have personally pledged to make dementia a priority, and have committed to becoming a dementia friend. Whilst this is just one the ways we can make life better for people with this terrible condition, I would encourage the nation in joining me and doing the same.”
David Cameron has promised to double the budget for research into this condition by 2015.
If you, or someone you know, is suffering from dementia, speaking to a counsellor could help you learn coping methods and relieve pent up stress. For more information and to find a counsellor near you, please see our fact sheet on Dementia.
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