As part of this year’s Dementia Action Week, I was invited down to a restaurant called ‘Humble Grape’ near Fleet Street for brunch with a difference. It was being run by the UK’s leading dementia charity, Alzheimer’s Society.
I didn’t know too much about Dementia or Alzheimer’s but thought that this would be a good chance to find out a bit more, particularly as I am seeing my maternal grandparents now struggling with their memory quite a bit.
I’d been sent over some great background information about the Dementia, its causes and statistics, some of which I’ve shared below.
Dementia is caused when the brain is damaged by diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease or a series of strokes. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, but not the only one. The specific symptoms that someone with dementia experiences will depend on the parts of the brain that are damaged and the disease that is causing the dementia.
Dementia describes different brain disorders that trigger a loss of brain function. These conditions are all usually progressive. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, affecting 62 per cent of those diagnosed. Other types of dementia include; vascular dementia and mixed dementia. Symptoms include memory loss, confusion and problems with speech and understanding. Dementia is a terminal condition.
There are around 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, with numbers set to rise to over 1 million by 2025. This could reach 2 million by 2051. About 225,000 people may develop dementia this year – one every three minutes. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease or any other type of dementia. Delaying the onset of dementia by five years would halve the number of deaths from the condition, saving 30,000 lives a year.
Alzheimer’s Society is committed to spending at least £150 million over the next decade on dementia research to improve care for people today and find a cure for tomorrow. This includes £50 million to develop the UK’s first dedicated Dementia Research Institute.
Dementia can be a very isolating and although most people may know someone affected, either directly or indirectly, two-thirds of people living with dementia report feeling loneliness. The theme of this year’s Dementia Action Week was “starting a conversation”.
Small acts of kindness can really help people with dementia. The Alzheimer’s Society, which held Dementia Action Week 2019 (from 20-26 May), encouraged people to play their part and practice simple actions including being patient if someone is struggling in a queue, or offering help to someone in public that may look confused.
1 in 6 people over the age of 80 have dementia and 70 per cent of people in care homes have dementia or severe memory problems – it is also now the UK’s biggest killer. But it’s not just older people that can be affected. Teenagers and young people can also be affected, at the brunch we heard from people as young as their forties and fifties who are not “suffering from dementia”, but living with the condition. One woman, who although she enjoys it, is sent to a social club to play bingo with 90 year-olds because dementia is treated solely with social care and the resources are stretched.
The morning at Humble Grape was a launch of Dementia Action Week but also a new Channel 4 show called “The Restaurant That Makes Mistakes” which will be broadcast on Wednesdays from 12 June 2019. They also reflected on a number of restaurant chains which opened their doors to people living with dementia working with the Alzheimer’s Society for #Dining4Dementia.
We got to try one of Humble Grape’s banana bread dishes (which was delicious), along with pastries and granola and then heard from those involved in the project as well as representatives from Alzheimer’s Society.
There was a great and very heartwarming video shown (shared below) around the topic of #AskUsAnything with children innocently speaking to people living with dementia and asking them various questions that they were curious to find out the answers to.
The Channel 4 programme follows 14 volunteers, all living with a dementia diagnosis, working as staff running a restaurant in Bristol, guided by Michelin-star chef and three-time BBC Great British Menu regional winner Josh Eggleton. There were local visitors as well as some celebrities that dropped by.
At the launch event, Josh was joined by actor Anthony Head (who I know best from “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”) who dined at the restaurant, Sue Strachan, one of the volunteers who took part in ‘The Restaurant That Makes Mistakes’, Trish Powell, Executive Producer at CPL Productions who produced ‘The Restaurant That Makes Mistakes’, Sarah Lazenby, Channel 4’s Head of Features and Formats who commissioned the show and Sally Copley, Director of Policy, Campaigns and Partnerships at Alzheimer’s Society.
Episode One follows 23-year-old Jordan who has Pick’s Disease, and Avril who can no longer remember her own age.
I was also moved to hear a little bit more about Transport for London and their commitments to being a Dementia-friendly organisation. They are encouraging their thousands of staff to become Dementia Friends and also helped develop a mock-up bus stop in St George’s Hospital in south London to help people with dementia feeling lost or confused in the hospital.
Over 300 London bus drivers are now trained to assist people with dementia and TfL says that by 2022, all 26,000 bus drivers across the network will have had the necessary training.
If you are interested in finding out more about Dementia, there are plenty of resources here – https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/about-dementia/types-dementia/what-dementia
~ J ~