The Alzheimer’s Society is a United Kingdom charity, providing care, information, support, and advice for dementia patients and their families. However, in doing those four things it provides so much more.
Two people, who had huge experience caring for family members with dementia, established the charity, in 1979, after discussing dementia, then the invisible disease, and the urgent need to raise awareness, knowledge and care standards for dementia sufferers and their carers. They formed a steering committee comprised of carers and medical professionals and The Alzheimer’s Society’s first general meeting was in September 1980, the Society’s first newsletter appeared in January 1981, and the first community branches in Bromley (1981) and Oxford (1980).
Caring for a person living with dementia within a family can feel very lonely. In the past, in the UK, there was not much help for people in that situation and what help existed was difficult to find and access. The best way to illustrate how the Alzheimer’s society helps dementia patients and their families, in the community, is to relate a true story. M & G had been coping alone, with G’s elderly mother, diagnosed with dementia seven years earlier, G was an only child and there were no other family members able to share the burden. They were also both holding down full time jobs. M & G were at the end of their tethers, when, M on a rare shopping trip to her local town, spotted an Alzheimer’s Society advice centre and went in and explained the situation. Straight away, the advisor arranged someone to come and sit with G’s mum for two hours a week enabling G and M to have time together, away from their caring responsibilities. M and G had not been able to go out together for several years, not even to go shopping. The Alzheimer’s society helped M & G claim the attendance allowance that G’s mother should have been claiming for all those years.
Through the society, a social worker was allocated to G’s mum, something she should have had all along. Which led to respite care for G’s mum, so that M & G could have a much-needed break away from the heavy responsibilities and stress that caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease means. Once G’s mum had a social worker, she went to a day centre one day each week meaning that she was socializing with other people and engaging in meaningful activity.
The Alzheimer’s Society provided practical help and useful advice, which enabled the couple to continue caring for G’s mum for another two years, until circumstances dictated that she needed professional care. M became an Alzheimer’s society member. The annual membership cost little and included regular newsletters, these newsletters contained much information and other people’s experiences of living with dementia, which were so useful to M & G in understanding why G’s mum behaved in particular ways. This knowledge and information relieved much stress. However, the most important thing that the Alzheimer’s Society did for G’s mum, G, and M was to end their isolation and the feeling that no one cared.
Apart from their community work, The Alzheimer’s Society also provides training, resources, and information for health care professionals and others, who work with patients living with dementia, from General Practitioners to Home Care assistants. The Society funds research into dementia, to find ways to control or limit the disease’s effects, and to find a cure. The Society conducts campaigns on topics affecting dementia patients and their carers, and provides a voice for those living with, and affected by, dementia. The society provides services in over 2,000 communities in the United Kingdom. The society receives no government funding relying solely on raising its funds by other means, charitable donations legacies et cetera. There are many way to get involved with the Alzheimer’s Society.
The Alzheimer’s Society raises awareness and knowledge about dementia, helps and supports patients and carers in the community, funds research into dementia, finds new treatments and information, lobby’s government to influence policy on dementia and does so much more. Its web pages provide information, knowledge and forums to help those dealing with dementia and its effects. The Alzheimer’s Society is a comparatively young charity, but since humble beginnings in 1979, has grown to become an invaluable resource to dementia patients, carers, those dealing with dementia in a professional capacity and a one stop resource for anyone requiring help, support, information, and knowledge about dementia. Its comprehensive web pages provide excellent information and knowledge. Most of all, The Alzheimer’s Society gives dementia patients and those looking after them a voice and visibility in UK society.