Do you remember Alan Beamer (66), the man living with dementia, who cried as he begged his friends to visit? (https://www.dailymail.co.uk/video/news/video-1241902/Alan-Beamer-breaks-tears-begs-friends-visit.html) The video had a big impact and thousands of views. It was powerful because it showed the loneliness of people coping with dementia.
One of the saddest things is that not only friends, but relatives and family stay away. Mostly because they don’t know what to say, and think that the person has changed. (The person remains, though they may behave differently because of the brain damage.)
And sometimes because they think, quite wrongly, that their visit would make no difference because the person has forgotten who they are. Wrong, said leading dementia expert, Tom Kitwood. (Dementia Reconsidered). ‘Holding the person together is the main aim of good dementia care: identity remains when others help to hold it in place.’ They may forget who you are, but your interaction with them reminds them of who they are. Christine Bryden, diagnosed with Young Onset Dementia said at an international conference, ‘‘‘As I lose an identity in the world around me,which is so anxious to define me by what I do and say, rather than who I am, I can seek an identity by simply being me,a person created in the image of God… my personality, my very ‘essence’, my relationship with God needs increasing support from you, my other in the body of Christ.’
Now three of our experts have updated a book on visiting someone with dementia: Louise Morse, cognitive behavioural therapist, Janet Jacob, a psychogeratric nurse and Dr Jennifer Bute, a retired doctor now living with dementia.
As well as practical tips, the book shows how to give the spiritual support so powerful for Christian believers.
Visiting the Person with Dementia will make a good Christmas gift for people caring for others with dementia, and by encouraging people to visit, could make all the difference to those living with it.
It’s available from Pilgrims’ Friend Society. See website www.pilgrimsfriend.org.uk