Tunstall’s Ali Rogan writes about being a Dementia Friends Champion.

It’s been four months since I started running Dementia Friends sessions. 93 Dementia Friends later – and 169 in total for Tunstall towards a target of 400 – I can honestly say it’s been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

Recently, I ran a couple of sessions of 10 people each. Just after the bookcase analogy (see the film above), which by the way everyone loves and pennies definitely start dropping, one lady said “when I take my mum out (she’s currently in a care home) she always says to me, we must get back for the baby.” Between the group, we discussed what she might say. If, as the bookcase example (which is about how people with dementia may lose their memories/skills over time often starting with the more recent ones) tells us, her mum believes she is living in the 1950s, then perhaps she could say something like “don’t worry, she’s being looked after by a close friend or family member and she’s having a lovely time.”

Another lady, when visiting her mum, told us that she would always say “[Her husband] hasn’t been round today, where is he?” and she would always reply that he died five years ago. Was this the right thing to do if her mum thinks she’s really living in the 1950s? Again we discussed what would be the best thing to do and that perhaps that she should change her reply and talk about her husband, maybe get the photos out and have a lovely conversation about him.

Someone else talked about her best friend’s father and how upset her friend was with her mum, for ‘putting her dad in a care home’ and that it shouldn’t really be about the family rows, rather it should be about the dad and what he wants and needs.

Finally, another lady explained how upsetting it was as a young girl, to see her gran insisting on sleeping in her parent’s bed. As the family home, she’s lived there all her life and believed the master bedroom to be her room, rather than the smaller room down the hall.

It really has been an honour to help the people who have experienced the Dementia Friends sessions to think a little differently about things and provide a little help to overcome some of their fears and concerns.

I really do urge you to sign up for a session today!

Find out more about Dementia Friends

Alison Rogan is External Affairs Director at Tunstall Healthcare and chair of the Dementia-friendly technology task and finish group.

Read about the Dementia-friendly technology charter which launched this week.