This Christmas we worked with a group of people affected by dementia to create an animated festive poem. Here, some of the group involved share their thoughts and hopes for the animation. You can also read the poem in full.
Christmas is an exciting and joyous occasion for many, but it can be an extremely stressful and lonely time for people who are living with dementia, their families and carers.
The reality is there are 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK meaning tens of thousands of families will be preparing for a Christmas with someone affected by the condition and many will be living alone.
At Alzheimer’s Society, we know that people with dementia can face isolation, misunderstanding and stigma – but especially during Christmas.
That’s why this year, we’ve worked with people living with the condition from Ashford’s Dementia Peer Support Group to create a short animated poem to bring these issues to light.
We believe the poem is unique because it is a Christmas message from a group of people who have dementia – it is not written to them or about them.
‘Have patience. Sometimes people with dementia need a bit of quiet time.’
Members of Ashford’s Dementia Peer Support Group worked together to create the text of the poem, focusing on the challenges they’d personally experienced.
Afterwards, they were the first audience to see the animation, at a special premiere-style event.
Tracey, who contributed to the poem, said:
‘I hope people take away the message not to mollycoddle their family members - not to mollycoddle the person with dementia, just let them get on with and do what they always do because that’s the most important thing. We are still the same person, we haven’t changed and it doesn’t change us to have dementia.
‘I hate being pitied. Your brain is like Paddington station because your brain is so active - we do get tired more quickly and we do have to be kind, be kind to ourselves and our family members have to be understanding towards us.
‘Have patience and allow that sometimes people with dementia need a bit of quiet time, quietness to go to their room or quietness to go somewhere where not everything is too busy and exhausting.’
Maureen, another member of the group, said:
‘I hope that people will listen to people with dementia and understand how they are feeling because at the end of the day we have still got feelings, thoughts and things. People often laugh at you, and we need to laugh with them.’
‘I hope people recognise although we have our limitations we still function.’
Read full poem from our Christmas animation
Some sad news this year.
I have dementia.
I’m being positive.
but I hope it’s slow.
I’m looking forward to the festivities but
I’d like you to know:
All the anticipation, the dos, and the sparkle
bangs, bells and chaos, hard work and sprouts
… feels like …
Friends pass me by
‘Don't leave me out!’
Smiles, without seeing,
pretending everything’s ok
Like to hideaway
all the names
It’s not the love bit that’s the problem,
it’s remembering what they’re called
I was the one everyone came to
Putting up shelves, doing magic tricks
Now you say ‘Don't you worry yourself’
As if you no longer trust me
And there’s a little voice in my head says ‘Bout right’
But I want to, need to, feel of use…
Sometimes if you help me you can disable me more than the illness
There’s no change but it’s all change
And another year ahead.
It may be a bit foggy but there is potential!
Don't pity me, stroke me, make a mess of my hair
Don't want it to be over – yet
Create a dementia-friendly Christmas
We've collected Christmas-themed information and advice from people affected by dementia.