Helping those with dementia

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Alzheimer’s Society volunteer befriender Bob Ayers is encouraging more people to open their hearts and minds and follow his lead by supporting people with dementia.

Following on from National Volunteers’ Week (June 1-7) Bob, who has been an Alzheimer’s Society volunteer befriender for six months, says supporting people with dementia has been a fulfilling experience.

”Befriending is really rewarding,” he said. “It helps both the person with dementia and their carer.”

The 58-year-old is a befriender to two local residents with dementia, and sees each of them once a fortnight. Bob joins them for a cup of tea at their home or they venture out for a few hours. He said the people he visits may have dementia but they have lived interesting lives.

“The people I befriend have really interesting stories to tell and it’s fantastic to be able to hear what they have to say,” he said.

“I have tried other full-time paid work, but this is far more enjoyable and fun to do.’

There are 1,289 people in Hastings, and 10,293 people in East Sussex living with dementia. As the population ages, the figure is set to rise.

The Alzheimer’s Society research shows that 850,000 people in the UK have a form of dementia. In less than ten years a million people will be living with dementia.

Joe Pepper, Alzheimer’s Society Befriending Manager for East Sussex, said befriender’s make an incredible difference to people with dementia and greatly improves the quality of their lives.

“Everyone needs a friend, yet people with dementia are more likely to struggle with isolation, loneliness and depression, he said. Alzheimer’s Society’s volunteer Befrienders enable people to do things they love from shopping to visiting the gardening centre. Sometimes it just means stopping by for a cup of tea.”

Joe said befriending offers the perfect opportunity for volunteers to support people with dementia to continue to feel a part of their community. “They provide companionship and are matched with people depending on their personality and common interests.’

Anyone interested in volunteering either as a befriender or in another area with Alzheimer’s Society is asked to contact Volunteering Officer Louise Cruickshank either via email at: louise.cruickshank@alzheimers.org.uk or call her on 01403 213015.

www.alzheimers.org.uk