With thousands of street parties set to take place across the UK to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, Alzheimer’s Society is urging organisers to consider the needs of the 900,000 people living with dementia.
The Big Jubilee Lunch, which is helping communities to organise street parties between June 2 and 5, predicts at least 12 million people will attend an event to mark the Queen’s 70th anniversary on the throne.
Alzheimer’s Society is keen to ensure those living with dementia, many of whom will have enjoyed previous jubilee celebrations, feel included in the festivities.
The charity says event organisers can make simple adjustments to avoid people with the condition becoming worried or disorientated.
Amanda Boult, Dementia Connect Local Services Manager for Lancashire and Cumbria, said: “There’s no reason why people living with dementia cannot be part of celebrations taking place in their community over the long Bank Holiday weekend.
“As a charity that has championed dementia-friendly communities, we believe those with the condition should feel included, valued and supported. So, it’s important their needs are taken into consideration in the run up to any event.”
The charity suggests some simple ideas for making events more inclusive;
- Let the person with dementia know the event is coming up. This may help you to gauge how they feel about it and whether they’d like to be involved.
- Find out the details of any events and consider whether the person will feel comfortable there. Too many people, too much activity, lots of loud noises or sudden movements could be confusing and distressing.
- People with dementia may feel too hot or too cold but be unable to communicate that to you. Therefore, if the event is outdoors, ensure they are comfortable. Encourage them to bring layers, so they can cool down or warm up as needed.
- If the person appears agitated at the event, try to provide reassurance by talking to them calmly and finding out if something in particular is affecting them. A gentle touch or hug can also help if a person is distressed. Be prepared to leave the event if the person needs to.
- If the event is indoors, consider creating a ‘quiet room’ where the person can take a break. Being in a room with lots of people with music and multiple conversations taking place can be overwhelming for a person with dementia.
- If you’re planning to put up decorations, do this gradually, ideally over a number of days, as people with dementia can find it distressing if their environment is changed suddenly.
- If you’re catering, consider providing buffet-style finger food. A huge plate of food can be daunting for someone with dementia.
According to the Big Jubilee Lunch, more than 83,000 street party packs have been requested from its website, easily exceeding the 64,000 requested in the run up to the Diamond Jubilee in 2012.
Amanda Boult added: “It’s looking like millions of people are gearing up for what will be a wonderful celebration of the Queen’s remarkable reign, and we hope everyone who wants to – including those with dementia – can be part of it.”
Alzheimer’s Society recently highlighted the benefits of obtaining a timely diagnosis as part of Dementia Action Week. For information, advice and support visit alzheimers.org.uk/memoryloss or call Alzheimer’s Society’s support line on 0333 150 3456.
You can also support people affected by dementia by wearing a Forget Me Not badge this June in honour of someone special and help fund life-changing dementia support by Alzheimer’s Society. Visit alzheimers.org.uk/forgetmenot for more information.