Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Can it really be this simple?

I (John) focused particularly on presentations by persons with dementia.  As mentioned in an earlier post, the Dementia Working Group that was formed only a year ago now includes persons with dementia from 11 European nations. They are not waiting passively for society to toss them the occasional crumb – the Dementia Rights movement is gaining steam, and I hope it will find its way to American shores soon.

A gentleman from Scotland shared his remarkable story.  After being diagnosed with Lewy Body dementia he sunk into a period of depression and withdrawal; his “dark year,” he now calls it.  Then he and his wife hitched up their figurative pants and began making calls on their neighbors, explaining his circumstances.  They visited 30 homes near their own.  “As a result,” he explained, “I found I now had 60 sets of eyes watching over me, there to help if I became lost or had other difficulties.”  Then they began making visits to the shops and businesses he had long frequented, beginning with the newsstand, the post office and the supermarket.  “Now if they see me staring blankly, people help me sort out what I came in for.  They put my items into my bag.  They count out my money and give me my change.  They have given me back my life.”

Can it really be that simple?  Perhaps more so in a smaller community, but people really do want to be kind and helpful.  But before they can be helpful, they need to understand the situation, and it takes courage to overcome the fear of being stigmatized and ask for that help. 

A related conversation that unfolded in our final plenary focused on businesses that declare themselves “dementia friendly” and so identify themselves with a sign in the window.  The largest-scale effort of this type is in the U.K., fostered by the Dementia Action Alliance, and their chosen logo is a purple angel.  It can be found in shops, churches, and places of public accommodation.  Other nations employ different logos, but the purple angel seems poised to become the most universal.

But precisely what does it mean for a business to declare itself dementia friendly?   At a very minimum it means that a business publically declares that persons with memory loss of cognitive challenges are welcome there, but some worry that it may be entirely too easy to make such a declaration simply for the sake of public relations or competitive advantage (“Our bank is dementia friendly while the bank down the street is not!”).  Is there a commitment to training employees to recognize signs of dementia and extend hospitality and support?  How much training, and provided by whom?  Would such a declaration extend to thinking through the physical layout of the business to make it less confusing to persons with dementia?  Who should set the standards, if indeed there should be standards at all?

Which brings us back to the Dementia Working Group.  In the end, it was argued, only persons with dementia are equipped to determine whether an establishment is dementia friendly.  What we need, in other words, are dementia activists who will provide education, feedback, and constructive criticism.  As the Working Group proclaims, “nothing about us without us!”

Approaching local businesses has been on my screen for some time as a focus for the Fox Valley Memory Project, but there have been so many other initiatives to get up and going.  But I am ready to open this conversation in our region, beginning with the downtown Appleton business community.  The Americans with Disabilities Act ensures that all of our businesses are accessible to persons with physical limitations.  Now it is time for these businesses to take steps to make themselves equally accessible to persons with dementia and those who care for them.


  1. Hi there,

    I am a caregiver and just came across your blog.

    I have been a young(ish!) carer for my mother-in-law, who suffers from dementia, for the last three years now.

    I am in the process of creating a new poetry site primarily aimed at carers, but also people with dementia as well - http://dementiapoetry.com.

    The blog is an honest account of my experience of caring over the last few years in poems - some silly, some exasperated, some happy, some sad - of my last three years caring for my mother-in-law, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease, and is aimed at helping to support other caregivers in a similar position.

    If you would be happy to link to me, I would gladly return the favour!

    DG x

  2. Thank you for sharing! I really appreciate your blog i learn a lot from this!
    Asbestos Lawyer Bay City TX

  3. Programming is very interesting and creative thing if you do it with love. Your blog code helps a lot to beginners to learn programming from basic to advance level. I really love this blog because I learn a lot from here and this process is still continuing.
    Love from Pro Programmer

  4. Dr Itua cure my HIV, I have been a ARV Consumption for 10 years. i have been in pains until i came across Dr Itua on blogs site.I emailed him about my details of my HIV and my location i explained every thing to him and he told me that there is nothing to be scared of that he will cured me, he gave me guarantee,He ask me to pay for items fees so when i'm cured I will show gratitude I did and giving testimony of his healing herbs is what I'm going to do for the rest of you out there having HIV and other disease can see the good work of Dr Itua.I received his herbal medicine through EMS Courier service who delivered to my post office within 5 working days.Dr Itua is an honest man and I appreciate him for his good work.My GrandMa called him to appreciate him and rest of my friends did too,Is a joy to me that I'm free of taking Pills and having that fat belle is a nightmare.you will understand what i'm talking about if you have same problem I was having then not now though.I'm free and healthy Big Thanks To Dr Itua Herbal Center.I have his calendar too that he recently sent me,He Cure all kind disease Like,Cancer,Herpes,Hiv,Hepatitis B,Fibroid,Diabetes,Dercum,Copd ,and also Bring back Ex Lover Back..Here his Contact .drituaherbalcenter@gmail.com Or Whats_app Number +2348149277967

  5. Unfortunately there are a lot of AIDS/Herpes denials on Herbal cures still out there. I did research on them after I was tested HIV/Herpes positive I was so worried am I going to die soon. I continue my search again on herbal remedy for Std, then I found lots of testimony on how Dr Itua Herbal Medicine Cured HIV/Aids, Herpes Virus,Copd, Hepatitis, Diabetes, On websites sharing their testimonies, which made much more sense to me. All the authors pronounce Dr Itua As a man with Good Heart, I pick interest in their testimonies and I contact him about my situation then he gave me procedure how it works, I proceed after one week he courier his Herbal Medicine to me and instruct me on how to drink it for two weeks to cure. I receive His Herbal Medicine so I drank it for two weeks as I was told then after 2 days I go for a test I found out I was cured from HIV/Aids & Herpes Virus, I pay homage to him 2 months ago to his country to celebrate with him on his African festival which he told me it usually happens every year. I know there are lots of (HIV)/Aids&Herpes Virus denials of Herbal Remedy movement the same few doctors and they represent a very small faction of the community. I could have died because I refused Natural Herbs Cures for so long, but luckily, by the grace of God I am alive to tell my story. Contact Info...Whatsapp Number...+2348149277967,Email...drituaherbalcenter@gmail.com/My Instagram Username...avat5634 Just in case you need someone to talk with.