Become a dementia friend

dementiafriendsBy Thomas Banning, Locum Pharmacist, Brecon

Dementia is a growing problem in our ageing population. According to the Alzheimer’s Society, 25 million of the UK population have a close friend or family member with dementia.

Dementia Awareness Week gives us a chance to reflect on what we can do to support our friends, families, and colleagues with this condition. In my opinion, it is particularly important that pharmacists, like myself, and other health professionals, who come into daily contact with older people, understand what patients with dementia experience on a daily basis.

People with dementia can become confused when taking their medicines, they may forget to take medicines, or they may forget they have ordered their medicines, so may order them again. Some patients have to rely on a carer. Everyone’s experience with dementia is different. The important thing is that every patient is respected, understood and supported.

The Alzheimer’s Society is running one hour dementia awareness sessions to help members of the public understand what it might be like to live with dementia and to turn that understanding into action. Last month, I attended one of these sessions and became a ‘dementia friend’. Now, I’m a ‘dementia champion’, which means that I can run these awareness sessions myself.

Supporting people with dementia is something I feel passionately about, which is why I’m involved in Brecon and Hay’s Dementia Supportive Community. This community was set up by retired pharmacist, Rhiannon Davies. Our aim is to get as many local people as possible to become ‘dementia friends’. Over the coming weeks it is our hope that community pharmacy teams in Brecon and Hay will support and lead on this initiative.

Becoming a dementia friend has put me in a better position to support and help patients with this condition. I would encourage pharmacists and other members of the pharmacy team to become dementia friends.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society in Wales (RPS Wales) would like to run some dementia awareness sessions. If any LPF steering groups or individual members are interested in hosting a dementia awareness session please contact Cynthia Langeveldt, Local Relationship Manager for RPS Wales here or email: Cynthia.langeveldt@rpharms.com