A series of Family Carers Events run by specialist charity, Dementia Adventure, have become a welcome beacon of light for thousands of unpaid and unqualified family carers of those with dementia across the UK.
According to recent findings of Alzheimer’s Society, those affected by what has now become Britain’s biggest killer, are still waiting for Government care reforms, leaving them to foot a care bill of almost £15 billion of their own money in the last two years.
Furthermore, the complexity of the condition, which can account for the costly care bills, has left family carers struggling to cope with day-to-day life.
There are approximately 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, with numbers set to rise to over £1 million by 2025. With the increasing pressure placed on family members, Essex-based charity, Dementia Adventure, introduced its Family Carers Events to make help and advice as accessible as possible.
Taking place in safe and friendly environments around the country, the free events aim to help family carers think differently about dementia; to continue to see the person, not the condition. Carers are given advice and practical tips on how to connect with their loved ones, how to overcome communication barriers and ways to continue ‘living’ with dementia, including the benefits of contact with nature and the outdoors.
Anne Swindell, who previously volunteered for Dementia Adventure, but has since been a recipient of their support when her mum was diagnosed with dementia, said: “After my mum was diagnosed, it was like her existing capacity was lost. We became invisible; even for us as carers, it is very isolating. This is where Dementia Adventure has played a very important part in my family’s life – they see you.”
Dementia Adventure’s Family Carers Events are delivered by a team of qualified and experienced trainers, who are regionally focused. They offer the opportunity to network with local support organisations and other family carers.
Anne continued: “The Family Carers Events have really inspired us; they’ve helped us focus on why we do what we do and the difference we can make to Mum. After my brother attended one in Benfleet, he suddenly became so much more connected to Mum; they even had a better relationship than before she was diagnosed. The laughter from the games they play is truly special. The events really help you understand the process of the disease, and what it is like for the person suffering from it. Mum has changed since being diagnosed, but thanks to the support from Dementia Adventure, we have experienced so much positivity and compassion, and she’s been in touch with nature on a completely different level.”
Dementia is one of the main causes of disability later in life, ahead of cancer, cardiovascular disease and stroke. Family carers are relied upon to support loved ones with the condition for anywhere between three and 20 years.
Simon Thorp, Head of Business Development and Innovation at Dementia Adventure, which has received funds raised from players of People’s Postcode Lottery since 2014, said: “We understand how difficult it can be for family members and others who are supporting loved ones with dementia to easily access information which is positive, convenient and also free of charge.
“This is why we started our family carer events – to help people not only to think differently and understand dementia better, but also find out about local support available and how life can be made easier when nature and the outdoors are involved. For anyone who is supporting someone with dementia on an informal or unpaid basis, we highly recommend attending one of these events, where you can also meet others who are in the same position.”
For more details on upcoming events, please visit www.dementiaadventure.co.uk.