Contrary to a popular belief held by many, I do not in fact spend all my time trawling the backwaters of the old British Empire in search of despots and debauchery. I do sometimes turn my skills to more worthy endeavours. Last week was one such enterprise, when I guided a group from Dementia Adventure around the serene landscapes of the Isle of Man. OK, admittedly it did rain a bit, and we did have to contend with enveloping mist, howling gales and a royal visit, but all that aside, it was, I think, a roaring success!
Simply put, dementia is a decline of the mental abilities that can cause anyone living with it to lose the ability to function in ways that most of us take for granted. Sadly it is also incurable. It can however be controlled and recent evidence suggests that those struggling to cope with dementia can benefit greatly from a little outdoor activity and contact with nature. And this is where I come in…
…A few months ago a friend of mine approached me about putting together a trip on the island for a dementia group. Trying to find a happy balance of activities was quite difficult – not too much walking, not too much intensive culture and just enough interest to keep it fresh. Now, for someone who until a week ago had never even met someone with dementia, this was to prove quite a challenge. In the end we went with seals and steam trains, coastal views, castles and award-winning ice cream. What’s not to like!
Today there are around 800,000 people in the UK alone who live with dementia in one form or another. It is a disease that doesn’t discriminate between sex, class or creed. But people with dementia don’t need to be locked away. They are not a danger. They are parents and grandparents, husbands and wives. They are no different from you and me, they just need a little more patience and a little more consideration.