Dementia Action Week takes place from 17th to 23rd May 2021. It is estimated that one in three of us will develop dementia in our lifetime.
People living with dementia have been worst hit by the pandemic, which has accounted for a quarter of all coronavirus deaths in the UK.
Dementia Action Week is so important because with few existing treatments it is social care, and not the NHS, upon which people affected by dementia rely, and Dementia Action Week can be a reminder to us that we all have a responsibility to become more ‘dementia aware’. It is also a call for the public to come together to take action to improve the lives of people affected by dementia.
The ‘go to’ charity for dementia support, understanding and action is The Alzheimers Society. There is a helpline- 03331503456 to speak to one of their expert advisors. There is also an online community called ‘Dementia Talking Point’ where anyone who is affected by dementia can receive support and share experiences with other people also affected by dementia.
Here at Chelmsford Cathedral we take dementia awareness ands support seriously. A few years ago the cathedral became a ‘dementia friendly community’ requiring us to monitor and upgrade the cathedral environment to make it more dementia friendly, and one of the ways we can support this is by providing training opportunities for all our volunteers. Two years ago (before the pandemic struck) the cathedral hosted a Dementia Action Week marketplace of information and services for people living with dementia.
A turning point for the cathedral came in April 2017, when Essex Mind and Spirit hosted a conference on ‘Dementia and Spirituality’. Following that conference the Canon Pastor was invited to join the Pan Essex Dementia Action Alliance, and so began a continuing partnership with Mark Neville the Essex Dementia Friendly Communities Coordinator. The cathedral has been host to a number of Dementia ‘Singing for the Brain’ sessions, Mark has led some Dementia Friends training sessions for our volunteers and others in the cathedral, and in 2018 the cathedral proudly hosted the first Alzheimers Society carol service.
Another reason why Dementia Action Week is important is because it can put pressure on the government for political action and change. The Canon Pastor has been a member of the Faith and Communities Tactical Coordination Group convened by the Essex County Council to coordinate the County wide response to the pandemic, supporting and advising especially faith groups, and minority communities in Essex who may be at particular risk. The cathedral’s close links with Mark and The Alzheimers Society ensured that there is now a specific Dementia Task Group as part of that effort, which will continue as we emerge from lockdown and think and plan about the future together.
A prayer for Dementia Action Week
healer and comforter,
we pray for those who suffer from the anxiety, ambiguity and confusion of dementia, and for their caregivers.
Give them patience; give them long memories to recall the fullness of their loved one’s life.
Give them the grace to let go of what was and embrace what is in love,
and grant them what they need for the moments ahead.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.