Guest Blog by Hazel Blears MP – Dementia is a Disease of the Mind

Hazel Blears MPIt not only robs people of their short-term memory, but also impacts on their physical capacity to carry out routine tasks.

I know that from personal experience because my mum Dorothy has suffered from Alzheimer’s for six years.

Her condition has deteriorated over this time.  She is now unable to feed herself, get washed and dressed, or get about easily.

She has long been unable to enjoy hobbies like writing, dancing and painting.

It is not just a case of remembering to do things – it has also become physically impossible.

As both the daughter of someone with dementia, and an Alzheimer’s Society ambassador, I am passionate about helping people to live well with dementia.

That means ensuring there is support for them within their local community, but also that there is help at hand to enable them to continue living in their own home for as long as possible.

When my mum had to go into respite care after my dad Arthur, her main carer, hurt his leg, I saw how disorienting the unfamiliar surroundings were for her.

A supportive family is important and my dad dedicates himself to looking after my mum and ensuring she is as content as she can possible be in her everyday life.

But more than a million people are expected to have dementia by 2021 and there is an increasing recognition about the need to design household products with their well-being and safety in mind.

For instance, my dad now has a buzzer which alerts him when mum gets out of bed.

He used to have a telecare medication device, which triggered an alarm and dispensed tablets for my mum.

The alarm sounds until the dispenser has been turned over to release the tablets.

The Design Council has developed a  ‘Buddi’ wristband, which functions as an emergency alarm with built-in GPS technology so family and friends know where their loved one is.

Other innovations include a day clock which tells people what day of the week it is and colour post-it notes to remind people where they have put things.

I was glad to meet Kay Allen recently and hear about the work she is doing through Really Useful Stuff to make products like these available and to raise awareness of just how valuable they can be.

Some of them are really simple.  But all can play an important role in helping people to live independently.

And I know that will give both the person with dementia and the family who care for them some comfort and happiness in the time they have remaining.

That is why I will continue to support anything we can do to get these products out there.

The Really Useful Stuff Team would like to thank Hazel Blears MP for writing this excellent and informative blog for us. If you would be interested in blogging for us on a suitable topic, please do get in touch.