Well, it's Dementia Awareness Week here in the UK, and it seems a pertinent time to come chat to you about what that means for me, and the Musical Walkabout as an evolving project.
Firstly though, how brilliant that we now have a Dementia Awareness Week! This disease, which effects an ever-growing number of people, is beginning to shed the taboo that once shrouded it. Is there more work to be done in this field, more ways to enable discussion on the topic? Certainly. But there is progress occurring, and it is worth celebrating.
As our global community continues to bring this disease out of the darkness of ignorance or fear, and into the light of public awareness, we will reap only benefits.
"Someone in the world develops dementia every 3 seconds. There were an estimated 46.8 million people worldwide living with dementia in 2015 and this number is believed to be close to 50 million people in 2017. This number will almost double every 20 years, reaching 75 million in 2030 and 131.5 million in 2050. Much of the increase will be in developing countries. Already 58% of people with dementia live in low and middle income countries, but by 2050 this will rise to 68%. The fastest growth in the elderly population is taking place in China, India, and their south Asian and western Pacific neighbours."
This means dementia will likely affect you or somebody you know within your lifetime. A stark realisation, but hopefully one which can galvanise us to do more. My previous blog 'Opportunities' was about just this, so feel free to go read that one if you find you have a second and feel compelled to join the fight.
For me, Dementia Awareness Week is just that - another opportunity to act upon our good intentions. I am lucky enough to be surrounded by inspiring, action-taking people, who make differences to people living with dementia every day.
Tomorrow will see me take the Musical Walkabout on a jaunt up to Sittingbourne to be part of Dementia Inspired's S.M.I.L.E event; featuring free workshops, talks and live music, this living well event is held at the Forum Shopping Centre, and aims to promote a positive outlook on dementia while raising awareness and reducing stigma.
And Saturday afternoon will find the Musical Walkabout being beautifully championed at a splendid fundraiser (emphasis on the fun!) put together by a gorgeous set of humans - Stephen West and Rebekah and Richard Lamplough with the team at the Sandgate Boules Club. If you fancy a wee boule (is that a verb?) and are Sandgate way, come along for picnics, chats and musical malarkey!
I feel tremendously fortunate to facilitate a project that, amongst other things, gets to engage in the world of dementia. I had the opportunity to learn more about this at one of Dementia Inspired's training courses recently; a brilliant and informative morning led by the experienced and excellent Ash Roberts of DI, as well as three speakers living with young-onset dementia, Lorraine, Wayne and Pete. Their ingenuity, humour, determination and wisdom was an honour to witness and spoke volumes not just of the challenges they face but the difference remaining active members of their community made as their journeys continued.
I witnessed this same initiative at Hawkinge House, one of the care homes the Musical Walkabout visits weekly, where they had brought in an incubator of baby ducklings for residents to interact with. With management and staff thinking outside the box, providing new and beautiful ways to engage residents, wellbeing increases for all, and a room becomes alive with laughter and joy.
So, what will you do to raise awareness about dementia this week? And next? Maybe you have a conversation with somebody you might not ordinarily have. Maybe it is as simple as that. Who knows?
Whatever you do, know that it has an impact, somewhere down the line.
May yours be positive, beneficial and inspiring.
Thanks for reading, and I'll see you all soon for another chat...