Today we had a ‘Dementia Friends’ session for Oxford University staff and students, which was led by Claire Sexton, a researcher from the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences and a Dementia Friends Champion.
The aim of the Dementia Friends campaign is to improve understanding and to encourage people to take small actions to help those in their community who have dementia.
The information sessions use analogies such as fairy lights and bookcases of memories and emotions to describe dementia and explain how people are affected. These sessions also impart 5 key messages:
- Dementia is not a natural part of ageing
- Dementia is caused by diseases of the brain
- It’s not just about losing your memory
- It’s possible to live well with dementia
- There’s more to a person than the dementia
Explaining why she got involved in this campaign, Claire stated that being able to increase understanding and support for people with dementia really appealed to her. Unlike academic research, where the benefits are generally felt much further down the line, being a Dementia Friends Champion is something that can make an immediate difference.
Claire can also see the benefit of inviting fellow researchers to these information sessions; over 1 million people have signed up to become a Dementia Friend and so by coming along to a session researchers can see how dementia is being explained to the general public, ensure they are using the same language, and perhaps even explain their work by making use of the same analogies.
There will be another Dementia Friends session for staff and students tomorrow (19th May) in the Department of Experimental Psychology, Lecture Theatre A at 12.30pm.