Dementia - it's everyones business

Thursday 7 July 2016

 

Dementia –it’s everyone’s business.

Dementia is the greatest health challenge of our time. It goes beyond health and social care and every one of us can do something to help. As a business owner you may well be thinking what could you do to help, even if you had time? Or why would it affect your business?

Too frequently people hear the word dementia and picture an elderly person in a care home, retired long ago. But in the UK there are an estimated 42,000 people under the age of 65 living with dementia and that number is set to rise in the coming years. Two thirds of people living with dementia are in the community, supported by family and friends. This means dementia could, in some way, affect your business now or in the future.

Why make it my business?

Across England, Wales and Northern Ireland close to half a million people with dementia are living in the community and a third of those are living on their own. For many, the idea of living well and having a good quality of life is still a distant dream. But change is underway and across communities we are starting to see small changes that are building to make a real difference.

Towns, cities and villages across the country are now seeing what they need to do to become dementia friendly, recognising the need to act and change in order to better support people with dementia. Communities across the country, including Medway are setting out on a journey to transform the experiences of people with dementia and their carers.

Many people with the condition are able to continue to work in the early stages, and would choose to do so. It could also be that someone working for you is caring for a family member living with the condition and a little understanding and flexibility can make all the difference to that person’s ability to work and care. People affected by dementia in the work place may have financial commitments so by enabling them to work, for you, for longer you are increasing their financial control and security.

There are very simple changes and adaptations your business can make to work towards being dementia friendly. It will help you to become an employer of choice and help you future proof your business.

Take 3 simple actions to help those affected by dementia

These could be:

  • Raising awareness of dementia
  • Reviewing your HR policies – how can you support and enable staff who might be caring for a person with dementia? How flexible is you approach to your staff?
  • Look at what you can do to support your customers who may also be affected by dementia.

If you think your business could benefit from becoming a dementia friendly employer, then join your local Dementia Action Alliance. We can help you decide what actions your business can take and how they will meet the needs of people affected by dementia. We can also help you access awareness training and the resources you may need.

What is dementia?

The word dementia describes a set of symptoms that may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language. These changes are often small to start with, but for someone with dementia they have become severe enough to affect daily life. A person with dementia may also experience changes in their mood or behaviour.

Dementia is caused when the brain is damaged by diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease or a series of strokes. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia but not all dementia is due to Alzheimer’s. The specific symptoms that someone with dementia experiences will depend on the parts of the brain that are damaged and the disease that is causing the dementia.

Five things you need to know about dementia:

  • Dementia is not a natural part of the ageing process.
  • Dementia is caused by diseases of the brain.
  • It is not just about losing your memory.
  • It’s possible to live well with it.
  • There is more to the person than the dementia.

If you are in Kent and Medway why not connect with us on MedwayDAA@alzheimers.org.uk or follow us on twitter @Medway_DAA.

Katie