Dementia Action Week is a national initiative led by Alzheimer’s Society to encourage people to take action to improve the lives of people living with dementia.
To help you take action this Dementia Action Week, we’ve created a list of ten things we can all do to help people live well with dementia from direct support to educating ourselves.
1. Call or visit a person you know who is living with dementia
Even if you don't think they'll remember it, the person will still be left with the positive emotions from your contact. This is because emotional memories are easier for people with dementia to retain than factual memories about things that happen.
2. Attend an information session to become a Dementia Friend
In this 45min information session you'll learn all about dementia and how to support people living with dementia – plus you’ll get a free badge. Sign up here.
Or, if you are already a Dementia Friend, you could register your interest to become a Dementia Champion and deliver information session yourself.
3. Read a book written by a person with dementia
There are lots of great authors who have dementia and have written about their experiences with the condition. Learning about dementia from someone who is actually living with the condition guarantees you an expert insight.
Some great books include:
- Somebody I used to know by Wendy Mitchell
- Dementia from the Inside by Dr Jennifer Bute
- Slow Puncture by Peter Berry
- Me and My Alzheimer's by Norman McNamara
- Will I Still Be Me? by Christine Bryden
- Five Minutes of Amazing by Chris Graham
Check out Young Dementia’s list of books written by people with young onset dementia for more books to read.
4. Download ARUK’s app, A Walk Through Dementia
This innovative app developed by Alzheimer’s Research UK shows users through clever 360-degree virtual reality what the world looks and feels like if you have dementia. The app takes you through various locations including the supermarket, busy streets and even your own home while experiencing symptoms of dementia. Find out more here.
5. Help make your work environment dementia friendly
Dementia can affect anyone, so there may be people working with you who you don’t realise are living with dementia. Even if there aren’t, raising awareness about dementia with your colleagues is crucial to create dementia friendly communities.
Some ways of doing this are to create clear signage, encourage open conversations about dementia, and include information about dementia in newsletters or communal staff areas. Check out these guides from Alzheimer’s Society for more ideas.
6. Watch a film or TV show about dementia
In recent years, the television industry has stepped up to provide more representation of people with dementia in the media as well as creating informative programmes about the condition.
Some great films and shows to watch include:
- Still Alice (film)
- The Restaurant That Makes Mistakes (available on All 4)
- Our Dementia Choir with Vicky McClure (available on BBC iPlayer)
- Away From Her (film)
- Untangling Alzheimer's (available on Netflix)
- The Father (film)
7. Offer to help someone caring for a person with dementia
You could offer to keep the person with dementia company while their loved one has some respite. Or you could help reduce their to do list by doing some cleaning or shopping. Even small gestures go a long way in reducing carer fatigue.
8. Volunteer at a local memory café, day centre of dementia charity
There are so many ways you can volunteer your time, from helping at a memory café to becoming a telephone befriender.
Charities that support people with dementia – like Alzheimer’s Society – are always looking for new volunteers to join their team. Plus, more general charities like neighbourhood organisations and Age UK benefit greatly from the support of people who are happy to help people with dementia.
9. Sign up to take part in dementia research studies
Register with Join Dementia Research and you'll be notified when a dementia research study that you are eligible for is recruiting participants. Anyone can volunteer – researchers need people with and without dementia so they can compare the differences. Registering your interest does not commit you to taking part in anything.
10. Be kind to everyone – you never know what they might be going through
Be kind – the person taking their time at the front of the queue could be a person with dementia trying to remember their PIN number, or a stressed carer trying to function on minimal sleep. Being patient and trying to put yourself in other people’s shoes will make life easier for everyone, whatever their situation.
Don’t worry if you haven’t managed to work your way through our list this week. Dementia will continue once Dementia Action Week is over, and people with dementia will always benefit from positive actions you take, no matter how small.