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RotaryThe Challenge of Dementia No. 4

For many local people, the Burton Overy Christmas Tree Festival is the start of Christmas, as it is for me. I have just taken part in the 19th Festival, and this year’s nominated charity is Dementia UK (Leicestershire), through which the money raised will support funding for an Admiral Nurse for this county.
Hundreds of visitors thronged the aisles of St Andrew’s Church, admiring and even marvelling at the many beautifully decorated trees inventively displayed on a Christmas theme. The Charity’s contribution to the festival, in a prominent corner of the church, encouraged visitors to put the name of someone they knew touched by dementia, on a snowflake tag and place it on a lit but not decorated tree.

As you can see from the photo, by the end of the three-day festival the tree was covered with more than a hundred tags with the names of husbands, grandparents, sisters, friends and so on. This highlights how this challenging condition can touch so many lives.

Access to an Admiral Nurse would ease the anxiety that a diagnosis brings and offer practical advice on the best ways to deal with the condition. The local fund-raising group are hoping soon to have positive news of the first Admiral Nurse in Leicestershire.

I am encouraged to find that we are now talking much more about dementia and that communities in towns and villages are getting together to support those people who had previously been isolated by this disease.

The Alzheimer’s Society, with their ‘Dementia Friends’ initiative, encourage these communities to become dementia friendly, while Age UK and other charities such as VASL and Dementia Harborough provide invaluable local support in a variety of ways.

Hopefully, in time, the stigma will lessen and families, friends and neighbours of those with a diagnosis, will feel better able to support them.
If you know of someone this Christmas with dementia, or a person who has become the carer of somebody with the condition, do not walk by on the other side of the road, avoid calling on them or knocking on their door. If you were in their position, you would so much appreciate a kind word or some practical help, whether from a relative, a friend or a neighbour.

As yet, there may be no medical treatment to cure dementia. You can’t catch it by associating with those who face this increasingly common condition. BUT you can make those touched by it feel SO, SO much better by NOT ignoring them and helping them to live well with the challenge.

A very Happy Christmas to all Chronicle readers. I shall have more to tell you about dementia in the New Year.

Meanwhile, please contact me if you feel you would like to make a contribution to future articles or to help Kibworth & Fleckney Rotary Club’s efforts and my own, plus those already engaged in support, to make Kibworth and the wider community more Dementia aware and more Dementia friendly.
Email me on grahamapt@btinternet.com.

Click here to read more articles in the series 'The Challenge of Dementia' by Graham Thompson

Graham Thompson
Kibworth & Fleckney Rotary
Issue 407
December 2018

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