Finally I made it. Last year I just had to satisfy myself with articles from local press and knew I cannot miss that again. Why? Because for me as a new comer it seems to be an unusual and moving idea to walk together against dementia and Alzheimer’s – two illnesses which still seem to be marginalized in many countries, but not anymore in the UK.
Memory Walk is one of many initiatives run nationwide by Alzheimer’s Society, organisation which provides support for patients and carers, raise awareness in the society as well as invests in research. The walk is open to everybody and its main goal is to bring Alzheimer’s and dementia into the public discourse as well as raise money for care and research. This year at Wollaton Hall met more than 2000 participants all of whom understand the condition of people with dementia and Alzheimer’s. There were patients and carers as well as 2 or even 3 generation families whose beloved ones were affected. It was a time of commemoration of those who passed away as well as time to think about those who are currently diagnosed with the illness. Many participants were wearing T-shirts with the pictures of the beloved ones, or statements for them. There was also a possibility to leave a message on a white memory tree.
“We are here in memory of my mama, she had dementia, and Charlie’s great grandma, she is 90 and she has got dementia and my uncle, he is 70 and has dementia too.” said Stacey, who came from Mansfield with her six year old son to take part in 10K and then 2K walk. When asked about the perception of Alzheimer’s and dementia in our society she replied:” I don’t think enough people know enough about it, which is why we want to raise awareness as much as money.”
Similar opinion has Deborah, whose father has been recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. “: I don’t think a lot of people give a second thought, they just assume that it is to do with old people and is part of the way life is, when you are getting old. But it is not and it is not, how it should be”. She came for the event with her sister and aunt from Leicestershire, because they believe that raising money for care and research is the best think they can do to help her dad and others with this condition. She also points out, how important is the proper diagnosis. “You can then figure out how to help him, so that he feels better about his daily life instead of constantly feeling that he is doing something wrong.”
The importance of understanding the disease was also mentioned by Flora, a care worker from Loughborough. “People get frustrated with dementia and they seem not to understand, that the person does not understand his or her behavior. Instead of getting frustrated, we should think how it would be if we were in their shoes”.
However according to the workers of Liaison Psychiatry at Kings Mill Hospital in Mansfield, the perception of people with Alzheimer’s and dementia has changed recently and the big share in that has Alzheimer’s Society. “Now dementia is much more socially accepted. People with dementia live now at home rather than are being placed in care placements. There are a lot of services for carers as well and families and patients with dementia, so we think it is fantastic.”
There is for sure still a lot to be done to sensibilise the society and there are many funds needed for care and research. But after talking to many participants of the walk I only can say, I wish that other countries would deal with the problem of Alzheimer’s and dementia as the UK does.