If the Christmas advert from Alzheimer’s Research UK had you feeling weepy, it’s worth spending a little time and effort this Christmas trying to help out the people Alzheimer’s Research are working to support.
There are 850,000 people living with dementia – meaning symptoms caused by diseases such as Alzheimer’s, including memory loss, confusion, and personality change – in the UK. By 2025 the number is expected to rise to over one million.
And yet there’s still no definitive answer to how to treat those with dementia. We still don’t know if there’s a cure.
The answer to this? More research, like that being carried out by Alzheimer’s Research UK.
But they need your help to prevent more people from developing dementia, provide effective treatment for those currently living with symptoms, and work towards finding a cure.
Here’s how you can turn feelings into action over Christmas (or at any time of the year, really).
Donating directly to Alzheimer’s Research UK is the easiest and most effective way to help Alzheimer’s sufferers.
Over Christmas you can text ‘BELIEVE’ to 70755, where the research will receive 100% of the donations – so you’ll know your money is going directly towards preventing and treating Alzheimer’s.
You can also set up one-off or monthly donations through the Alzheimer’s Research UK website.
Talk about dementia
It’s one of those topics that we’re all too often afraid to discuss, because it’s not particularly cheery. Plus, we’re worried that we’ll eventually develop symptoms, and don’t want to think that this could lie ahead.
But it’s incredibly important to talk about Alzheimer’s, learn more about the condition, and keep an eye out for early symptoms in loved ones.
This can’t be something we’re scared to talk about. We need to make sure that people who are suffering from dementia, or are worried they might be, have a safe space to discuss their issues and ask for support.
Signs someone may be suffering from Alzheimer’s:
- Regularly forgetting recent events, names and faces
- Becoming increasingly repetitive, e.g. repeating questions after a very short interval
- Regularly misplacing items or putting them in odd places
- Confusion about the time of day
- Disorientation, especially away from normal surroundings
- Getting lost
- Problems finding the right words
- Mood or behaviour problems. Some people become disinterested in what’s happening around them, become irritable, or lose confidence.
Two easy ways to talk about dementia: 1. bring it up with your family (ask if you have a family history, talk about your worries, and discuss signs and symptoms), and 2. share Alzheimer’s Research UK’s campaign with the hashtag #SantaForgot to get the conversation started.
Alzheimer’s Research are always in need of volunteers – and not just around Christmas time.
There are plenty of ways to chip in, from doing collections to helping out with events.
You can find out more about volunteering with Alzheimer’s Research UK on their website.
Spend time with relatives suffering with dementia
Living with dementia can often make people experience feelings of loss and loneliness, and their symptoms can make you feel like you’re not sure how to behave or if you’re doing the right thing.
The important thing? Don’t let your uncertainty result in you distancing yourself from someone who really needs emotional support (no judgement, loads of us end up doing this when we’re worried and unsure).
Make time to chat with any relatives or loved ones who are suffering from dementia. Make them feel listened to, understood, and less alone.
If you’re uncomfortable, talk to the person’s carer to find out more about their symptoms and learn more about what they need – as everyone’s different.
But just being there makes a huge difference.