Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Kirsty Jardine

Kirsty works at the Alzheimers Society Scotland, helping to provide care, support and information to carers and people with the disease across the country. Her main job is to raise awareness.

Many people who are experiencing the first signs tend to cover it up - this is because as soon as certain cognitive functions begin to break down, especially memory, it’s a bit like losing your sense of time and place and this is firmly connected with identity.

Dementia is the disease that is most feared among old people - more than cancer or heart failures.

The main thing she has noticed over the last ten years is the increase in the number of old people living alone. The change in the way families live, fewer families live together across generations, families break down, there are a lot more separations, more and more people move abroad, away from the older members of the family. But also many people, when they retire, choose to move to the countryside, more isolated parts of the country - this causes complications in getting the care to them.

If Kirsty could engage the public with something it would be the idea that noone should have to feel isolated with Dementia. This goes from having the confidence to get an early diagnosis, to having proper provision of care.

Also: Dementia doesn’t mean you can’t learn new skills. In fact, Kirstly says that the more creative side of the brain is still very functional and may even be developed. You can live well with Dementia - if the support is there.

The image she described was, appropriately, the Alzheimers Society Scotland logo, an image of three individuals, embracing each other in support. It describes, she says, the way in which AD can both be incredibly isolating but also, with the right support, bring people together.

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