Saturday, February 15, 2014

I am a realist when it comes to being dementia friendly


I am what many consider the black sheep when it comes to bringing Awareness of dementia.

Some will tell you we are making great strides in dementia awareness. I say, "Where?"

I am going into my ninth year of having memory issues, four of them since being diagnosed and from my stand point I see things going backwards instead of forwards.

I see people making all sorts of claims of being dementia free, or dementia friendly.

There is no one who wants to bring awareness to this disease more than I. This is my job now, I do this day in and day out.

Those who tell you we are getting there, I have to wonder where there is? I just went through a string of bad days and when that happens I always get defensive when I read about "dementia awareness" this and "dementia awareness that".

This notion that you can call a business dementia friendly for one reason or another is like shooting pool with a rope. It doesn't work.

Take McDonalds for instance. One of the largest food chains in the history of food chains. To get them to be "dementia aware" would be great.

It's no where near feasible, but it would be great. You see when someone talks about dementia friendly businesses, thats what it is. Talk.

Do you realize what a cost it would be for say McDonalds to even think about implementing dementia friendly franchises?

Even if they could, these franchises are owned and operated individually. It is up to the owner of the franchise to do the training, keep up with the training and see that it is adequate and closely monitored.

Does anyone ever stop and think of the turn over ratio of a McDonalds? Or lets take it a step further.

How about a "dementia friendly" hospital. Again, would be great, just not feasible.

Most of us have a false sense of security of thinking when our loved one has to be admitted to the hospital, everyone that comes into contact with them knows about dementia.

Here's the truth. Your lucky if by some chance your loved one isn't given a medication they are allergic to, let alone being in a "dementia friendly" atmosphere.

There is no way you can get a institution like a hospital to be "dementia friendly". How many times have you witnessed something go wrong in an actual dementia facility where this is all they do, care for dementia patients?

Some will take what I am saying here and turn it completely around. But what I am telling you is to think that any business, or any city can be "dementia friendly, or dementia free" is false hope.

Here is a perfect example. Chances are you, the caregiver/family member have others in your family that you simply cannot get to be on board with the fact the Mom or whoever does indeed have some form of dementia.

We see this all the time. Denial. And that is in your immediate family. Now imagine trying to harness this "dementia free" thing in any business, or city.

I am a realist. And to me this will never be attainable. It just won't. It's good to talk about it. It's good to claim places are "dementia friendly", but in the long run the knowledge of dementia is no better than the person who is teaching or bringing their employees to understand about the disease.

I can go and talk to any business owners. Tell them exactly what to do, what not to do for dementia patients. And all that amounts to is a public service announcement of sorts.

It certainly doesn't make the place I am talking to or speaking at "dementia friendly". Who I ask is doing this training? Who is following up on the training to see that is is being implemented on a daly basis?

We all want this disease to be understood. Especially from a patients stand point. It is to my advantage to know where ever I go they understand what dementia is.

The problem is, everywhere I go no one does. That is the reality. And that is why I am a realist.

Will there someday be dementia friendly businesses, or cities? I don't think so. But I can tell you this without hesitation. It is going to take more than calling a place "dementia friendly" because they buy into what ever you are selling...and that is the cold, hard truth...

I have to say that taking this stance is not popular. But I never was good at popularity contests.