Dementia: do we really know what this is?
Dementia is an awful, lonely brain disorder. In August 2013, every 4 seconds someone in the world was diagnosed with dementia. When you hear the word “dementia” you may think of Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common type of dementia, but there are actually almost a hundred different types of dementia, such as vascular dementia (after a stroke), Lewy bodies or Pick’s disease (also known as fronto-temporal dementia). The causes are different, and so are the parts of the brain affected, but the consequences are similar: when you have dementia your brain starts failing you. And it is a myth that dementia only affects the elderly, as you can suffer from certain types of dementia before even reaching 50 years old.
Consequences of dementia
Dementia affects more than the person who suffers with it, it affects the whole family who has to care for their beloved and see them change, forget people and places, become moody, do silly things, have nightmares and incontrollable fears… No one can really understand someone with dementia, as the brain just plays some tricks we cannot really comprehend if we’re not the target. What carers see is the result, their loved one lost in their own brain. The child becomes the parent, and you try and do your best to comfort the person with dementia and help them.
Having dementia doesn’t mean you have to be put in a nursing home or a care home, but it means that you need 24/7 care, from your spouse, children or an independent carer.
What can we do?
This is the question we’ve asked ourselves at Ostrich. Our goal at Ostrich is to connect care and to help people find the right care and advice for their needs. We are offering every care home, nursing home and care at home provider the chance to be listed on our website for free, and they can add pictures and information about their facilities and the type of care they offer. We also offer independent legal advice, financial advice or existing illness insurance. We believe needing care is hard enough so finding the answers should be made easy. This is why it made sense for us to try to help dementia sufferers and their carers feel safer and supported, and that’s how we had the idea to launch a dementia awareness campaign, with advice from someone who knows the subject too well: the amazing Norman McNamara.
Giving a helping hand to dementia sufferers with Norman McNamara
Suffering with dementia is hard enough for sufferers and their carers that we wanted to do something to help make their lives a bit easier. This is why we partnered with the amazing Norman McNamara to assist him in his fight. He created the Torbay Dementia Action Alliance when he was diagnosed with two types of dementia, and he has one goal: to raise dementia awareness and to talk about it so it will stop being considered a shameful thing.
When Norman searched for information on Lewy bodies he discovered that finding information on dementia other than Alzheimer’s was almost impossible and so he decided to help fellow sufferers. On his blog he shares his life with dementia, hiding nothing from the reader.
The Purple Angel
Norman (known as Norrms to his friends), with a very small group of carers and dementia sufferers, created the Purple Angel logo, a universal symbol for dementia awareness. Every dementia organisation has a logo, but before the Purple Angel there wasn’t one unique emblem for dementia awareness. The Purple Angel, created in 2012, is gaining visibility slowly but steadily; it led to the Wristband Project for instance in the USA, through which dementia patients will be given a wristband featuring the Purple Angel, so hospital staff can care for them properly.
The Ostrich Purple Angel stickers
Norrms has done an amazing job raising awareness in the Torbay area where he lives; he goes to shops, explains to retailers what it means to have customers with dementia and how to care for them, and he awards dementia-friendly shops a Purple Angel. What he lacked to go global was as he puts it “the F word”, funding. Despite Ostrich being a very small and young company, we’ve decided to go big and to create the Ostrich Purple Angel stickers, along with a simple Guide to Dementia written by Norrms, that we will send to everyone who wants to become dementia aware, no matter where they live. We launched this Shop Awareness Campaign on 27th August and we received an amazing number or responses, with people in Nepal, Australia and the USA asking for the guides and stickers!
Our goal: making the daily life of dementia sufferers easier, and making it possible for people with dementia to feel safe on the high street.
The success is such that we will very soon also launch Ostrich Purple Angel car stickers for everyone who wants to promote dementia awareness.
Ostrich Purple Angel Ambassadors
Norrms cannot be everywhere to approach shops all over the UK to help them become dementia aware, so we’ve decided to appoint 50 Ostrich Purple Ambassadors to help in his mission to raise awareness all over the UK. These 50 dementia-friendly volunteers will be coached by Norman himself to learn more about his methods and what we should expect from dementia-friendly shops.
If you are interested in the campaign and want to become an ambassador or a dementia-friendly shop, you can follow Ostrich on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ for updates, or send us an e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.