Last week I attended a session to become a Dementia Friends Champion. I guess there were around 15 of us from all walks of life and jobs but I was the only person living with Dementia. Obviously when I go places it is not something I announce to the world and his wife, why would I?
Why was I there? I’ve already accompanied others when they have delivered Dementia Friends Sessions to both adults and children in local schools as part of working towards becoming a Dementia Friendly Community, with the steering group Dementia Friendly Seaham. So it seemed natural that I could start delivering them myself at some point. Becoming a Dementia Champion you start by committing to delivering one session in the first four months, and that can be to just one person (family and friends) or to a group of people (etc workplace).
Getting back to the information day. I am not sure how I felt at first, listening to the facilitator talk about ‘people living with dementia‘, as it felt like he wasn’t talking about me. It is a very strange place to be, listening and ‘learning’ to read a script educating others about dementia. I somehow felt detached emotionally from the whole event, even though inside I kept thinking “this is about me”.
The script is necessary because it is about facts, and gives standard information that is not personal but really informative. Every dementia friends session given around the country will be the same. This is how information works best and Dementia Friends Sessions are so, so important to educate as many people as possible about how, individually, they can make a difference. It is as simple as being aware of how a person living with dementia can see the world around them. Example – Black door mats = holes in the floor, or difficulty counting money at a supermarket checkout slowing everyone up. Those are just a couple of small examples. For me the real bonus is about people just learning to have a bit of understanding about the many difficulties of living with dementia.
So, here I am in this Dementia Champion Session feeling somewhat disconnected from everyone around me, obviously this was just a person introspection of mine and not in anyway about the people I was with. I think that sometimes I just wish I was one of those people learning about dementia and not living it.
Anyway, it was a good day and I came away with the confidence that I could do this, I also caught up with people I had met before with was lovely.
I am looking forward to delivering my first Dementia Friends Session following the script, and possibly at the end when I finally ask the people attending ‘what someone who is living with dementia looks like?’ I will say “me“.