Nov 29 2017
This festive season Museums Sheffield is taking part in the UK’s largest online match funding campaign with a new fundraising appeal aiming to raise £4,000 for a new project to enrich the lives of people living with dementia in Sheffield.
Christine Green is a member of Museums Sheffield’s Friends Circle, chairs the Friends Ambassadors, and volunteers at the museums and galleries. She is a Dementia Friend Champion and is kindly supporting the Big Give Christmas Challenge appeal to raise fund for Dementia Friendly Museums and Gallery Cafés.
"Do you know someone living with dementia? I bet you do, because soon almost everyone in this country will. One of the biggest obstacles in the fight against dementia is ignorance. So here goes, a few facts: dementia is caused by diseases of the brain, it is not a natural part of ageing and it isn’t just about memory loss. It can affect thinking, communicating and performing everyday tasks. Those of us in the know never talk about suffering with dementia. You see, it is possible to live well with dementia if you have the support of your family, carers and society.
"Let me tell you about Jean, who is living with dementia. She was a gentle lady - smart, intelligent, and worked in the legal profession until she was 75. She enjoyed life to the full, including many holidays world wide. Now she thinks her daughter is her mum and that she lives at home with her mum, dad and brother, Alan. She is incontinent, has no concept of day or night or of time generally, uses bad language and can be violent. Whilst still living independently at home, she left the house, leaving the front door wide open, and was found by the police over 30 miles away in Sheffield, where she used to live. To this day, no one knows how she got there.
"However, beneath the surface, is the emotional side of Jean – the love, laughter and sadness. It is my belief that the amygdala (the side of the brain that deals with emotions) remains intact, whilst the hippocampus (the memory side) is the most noticeably affected in someone living with dementia. Jean went to the seaside, had an ice cream, ate fish and chips in a café and enjoyed a walk along the seafront in her wheelchair. When she got home, she didn’t remember any of the activities but emotionally she was happy and content – she knew the day had been good. Dementia doesn’t rob us of our emotions, so it is important to always remember that there is more to a person than dementia.
"People living with dementia have so much to offer society. Talk to them. Listen to them and allow them to share memories. Don’t argue with them (that will only frustrate you and upset them). Go with the flow and accept their world for what it is.
"How do I know all this? Well, Jean is my mum and I am a Dementia Champion who works to make society aware of this terrible disease, which takes away so much of the person we once knew.
"You can play your part. Become a Dementia Friend, get in touch and stay in touch with someone living with dementia, or volunteer for an organisation that helps people with dementia. Give generously to our appeal so that people living with dementia can visit the museums and galleries they have come to enjoy – and know that the day has been good.
"We all need to work hard to improve the lives of people with dementia, and to challenge perceptions about what people living with dementia can achieve. I want to live in a society where we are all dementia aware and where everyone living with dementia is treated with the respect and dignity they deserve and has no reason to feel ashamed or afraid."
Take part in The Big Give Christmas Challenge between 12noon on Tuesday 28 November and 12noon on Tuesday 5 December and see your donation doubled, thanks to our challenge partners, the Postcode Support Trust and city businesses Counter Context and Quality Context.