It’s World Alzheimer’s Day – September 21st. Nothing will change today, of course. No ground-breaking new way of helping people living with dementia will be launched. No cure will be found.
Except that today, as every day, good things WILL happen. Thousands of people around the United Kingdom will take part in an Alzheimer’s Society Memory Walk. Money will be raised and, just as important, awareness of the impact this disease has on so many people will be increased. Relatives and friends will spend quality time with loved ones who are living with the disease, helping to improve the quality of individual lives. And those who are especially passionate about bringing dementia on to the national agenda will write, speak, lobby, petition to get their message across.
When Mum was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease more than four years ago, my sister and I, and those closest to us, felt isolated. I’ve written before about the challenge of obtaining a diagnosis in the first place and the search for information which follows that diagnosis. The Alzheimer’s Society helped to fill part of the gap – their Talking Point online forum made us feel we weren’t alone – and some working in social care locally were supportive. But by far the most stimulating and nurturing form of support for me has come from the countless people who blog and use Twitter and Facebook to share experiences and, more than once, comfort. It would be foolish to try to list all of those people who have helped and who continue to help, who have shared and retweeted my attempts to make sense of dementia in this blog, and whose own work has inspired me to continue. Kate Swaffer, an inspiration in Australia, has talked about her imaginary friends around the world. I’ll echo that and gives thanks that these people are very real indeed.
I’m sorry if this, in any way, sounds self congratulatory. “Look at us and read our blogs.” That isn’t the intention. Rather, I want to draw attention to the volume of practical wisdom and support which exists.
If you do one thing for World Alzheimer’s Day today, please search on Twitter, Facebook or Google (other search engines are available) for dementia and read a blog or online article or two. Bit by bit, we’ll get the message across.
Happy World Alzheimer’s Day.