What are the 2015 Christmas adverts really trying to tell us? #DementiaFriends

Have you seen it? #ManOnTheMoon from John Lewis has taken the world by storm the past 4 days, I don’t think anyone can look at the moon right now without hoping to see a little white haired man sitting on a bench waving back. Like every year ,John Lewis gives us a heart wrenching advert that doesnt actually advertise anything they sell. This year the cost of such an advert came to £7,000,000 / €9883949 / $10585750. So thats basically £53,846 a SECOND but with 11,163,593 views in just 4 days (as of 1pm today!) the audience it reaches is magnanimous.

John Lewis are amongst the worlds best when it comes to PR and marketing. Every year their advert is hotly anticipated, we all remember Monty the Penguin, The Bear and the Hare, The Snowmen, the list goes on. It is ALWAYS memorable and the song always gets in the charts, but this year their focus isn’t on cuddly toys, or snowmen, its not a cgi movie its actually quite thought provoking. So many old people feel isolated and secluded at this time and all times of the year and ‘Show Someone They Are Loved This Christmas’ is not just about the season of good will to strangers but the need for good will to our nearest and dearest. We all have that elderly relative that it feels like a drag to visit, or that neighbor who never seems to have any visitors behind the twitching net curtain. Old people are like golddust, they know so much, they have seen so much and they have so many stories to tell but more often than not they don’t have anyone to tell these stories too. Neighbours may not be our dearest (the theme of the Christmas Advert for TK Maxx) but they are often our nearest, and although cant choose our family but we shouldn’t neglect them.

Today I became a ‘Dementia Friend’. The Alzheimers Society have this initiative originally aiming to create 1 million ‘friends’ for the 1 million people diagnosed with some form of dementia in the UK but obviously they have supposed that total because it is such a fabulous initiative. I wanted to share with you a few things I learnt this morning and some of my misconceptions before the session.

What does the word ‘dementia’ mean? – Memory Loss, Confussion, Forgetfulness, Loneliness – notice how all of these words are negative? I didn’t either until it was pointed out to me today.

Dementia is NOT a natural part of ageing, it is not just about memory loss. Dementia is an umbrella name for 100’s of variations of the brain disease so there is a lot more to a person other than just dementia. 2DE180A300000578-3293866-image-m-87_1446055435312

The key for people living with dementia is having patience and an understanding. We are very quick to take things for granted but if you’ve got a person with alzheimers who is more familiar with life in the 1950’s how do you expect them to make a cup of tea when even the milk bottles look entirely different let alone with kettle and ‘regular’ kitchen appliances. Basic confusion can cause the biggest of problems, shiny floors can appear wet and slippy, large black mats can be perceived as holes, mirrors can cause a confusion if whats looking back isn’t expected. All these things can make some ‘easy’ tasks difficult.

I found my information session today super informative and have come away enthused, excited and on a mission to make my village a better place to live for those living with dementia. For more information on becoming a ‘Dementia Friend’ or to gain a better understanding of the disease check out their website.

Photo on 10-11-2015 at 13.04 #3


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