Dementia friend Helen Morris: Recent memory and inclusion

Saddleworth Dementia Friends Champion Helen Morris, from Dobcross, shares some thoughts about dementia, looking at ‘Recent Memory and Inclusion’

As I journey through Saddleworth offering Dementia Friends Information Sessions, I pause to reflect on some serious interactions and amazing stories I have shared.

The stories reveal real ingenuity and determination in overcoming the challenges dementia presents and highlight just how wonderful the human spirit is and what devotion we have to each other. VLUU L200  / Samsung L200

For instance, dementia commonly affects the way our memory works, particularly recent recall, which can lead to not remembering plans for a family party and not being able to share the joy of recalling funny moments, only a few days later.

This is upsetting for the family who may show their exasperation, damaging fragile confidence even more. In time, this sad routine can erode both the desire and the opportunities for socialising, so losing something which is so basic to our human needs.

We discussed if there was any point in inclusion of this sort when there is no anticipation or memory of the occasion afterwards? Happily, we agreed this proposition ignores the fundamental joy of the present moment: the precious shared laughter, the warm hug, the loving eye contact, and of course the emotional contentment which follows.

So is there something we can all do to help make Saddleworth more dementia friendly? We can agree that recent memory is not the be all and end all of human existence and focus instead on enjoying human companionship and shared insights.

We can continue to share all our events, from big planned affairs to everyday pastimes, and make sure a lot of our banter concerns the present moment, so helping people living with dementia to stay involved. We would then have made a huge step towards becoming dementia friendly through ‘inclusion’.

And of course learning these skills now may help us all as we live our longer lives. By living longer it is likely that many of us will learn to live with dementia ourselves and/or support someone else close to us.

For details of local Dementia Friends Sessions visit http://www.close-communications.com/dementia-friends or contact Helen on 07976 702 171.

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