What is the Alzheimer’s Society, and what do they do?
Posted by Martin Hewitt on December 3, 2020
If this is your first time reading an Ability Superstore blog, then let’s be clear – we love shining a light on a worthwhile disability charity. We believe this kind of signposting can help people, impacted by different conditions, get the support they really need and learn about the services they can access to help make life that little bit easier. This time around, we’re looking at the Alzheimer’s Society, one of the UK’s foremost organisations for dementia awareness and advocacy.
While Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia, not all dementia symptoms signify Alzheimer’s. The term refers to a broad range of neurological conditions that impact cognitive functions and the nervous system.
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, accounting for between 60% and 80% of cases. Those with the disease will experience worsening symptoms such as memory loss, communicative problems, and have difficulty learning information. As the condition progresses, this will lead to confusion and disorientation, mood and behavioural changes, and eventually a decline in motor skills like swallowing, walking and speaking.
Suffice to say, Alzheimer’s disease is incredibly complex, and we still do not have a full understanding of the condition. It remains shrouded in many mysteries. This makes the work of any disability charity that deals with long-term health conditions and terminal illnesses, such as dementia, absolutely vital. Without ongoing investment in research, much of which comes from private donations and fundraising efforts, hopes of one day being able to fully manage Alzheimer’s, or even find a cure, are unlikely to ever become a reality in the near future.
What is the Alzheimer’s Society charity?
The Alzheimer’s Society is the largest voice working to help those impacted by Alzheimer’s disease. The charity campaigns for changes to policy and law that will directly improve rights and quality of life. The Alzheimer’s Society invests in vital projects and research. It delivers on-the-ground support to those living with dementia and their families.
What kind of projects does the Alzheimer’s Society fund?
You can find a complete list of current projects the Alzheimer’s Society is undertaking on the charity’s website. The breadth of the work is incredible, with ongoing efforts to develop new treatments from food compounds, fresh approaches to studying vascular dementia, and potential options for drugs that could reduce the overall risk of developing conditions in the first place.
It is worth noting that the Alzheimer’s Society focuses on medical and scientific research. In comparison, Dementia Friends, a national initiative established by the Alzheimer’s Society, is aimed squarely at improving social integration and overcoming environmental obstacles faced by those living with dementia, their carers and families.
How does the Alzheimer’s Society charity support individuals?
Alzheimer’s disease, and all forms of dementia, can be incredibly isolating for anyone involved. People living with these conditions will find it increasingly difficult to engage socially and typically begin to feel more and more isolated from society and ‘locked-in’ themselves. The demand on carers, meanwhile, is equivalent to a full-time 24-7 role, which can again lead to a sense of isolation and loneliness.
It is crucial to remember that nobody is truly alone in this struggle. By reaching out, or at least passively engaging with online communities of people with similar experiences is just one way in which the Alzheimer’s Society helps to deliver support.
The Alzheimer’s Society also publishes a regular magazine with features on new research and treatments, first-person stories, invitations to events and much more.
The Alzheimer’s Society also allows you to search for dementia services in your local area via their website. Sadly, due to the coronavirus pandemic, and necessary social distancing measures, many services that would usually be delivered face-to-face have switched to telephone and online.
What steps can be taken to help with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia?Whatever individual circumstances, adapting to a life that has been touched by Alzheimer’s is one of the most challenging; whether you have received a diagnosis or someone you love has. It’s only by opening up to help, accepting assistance and living with dementia, rather than fighting against it, that we have any chance of overcoming the psychological and emotional strains involved.
There’s also a broad range of products on the market that can help both with the practical challenges and quality of life for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. These include specially designed mugs and bowls, secure and safe pill dispensers (stopping patients over or under-medicating), and more sensory aids, such as this activity apron, which is created specifically to help keep those living with dementia mentally stimulated, distracting them from negative habits like disrobing.
Why not also read our blog on World Alzheimer’s Day, which has lots of information on other relevant services and organisations?