The importance of dignity when supporting people living with Dementia


Chances are that you know someone living with Dementia.


As our society ages; more and more people are living with one (or more) of the many different forms of Dementia. Thankfully, we have moved on and the stigma relating to Dementia is slowly fading and to be honest, it needs to. If one of your loved ones is living with Dementia, you probably already have a fair idea of the challenges this range of conditions can present. 


Some years ago my aunt was diagnosed with Dementia. My aunt and uncle went into a care home together. My uncle was as sharp as a tack, but physically very limited. My aunt was physically extremely fit, but was becoming increasingly forgetful. For a while this arrangement worked well and they lived in the care home very happily; each getting the support they needed. Sadly, my uncle died and as is often the case, my aunt's condition went downhill rapidly. My cousin went every day to see her mother and my aunt would ask after her husband. At the time the usual approach in care homes (and in society generally) was to 'correct' the person living with Dementia. This was incredibly distressing for my aunt, my cousin and the care home staff, as each time my poor aunt would re-live the devastating grief of losing her husband. One day my cousin made the decision that she was not going to remind her mother that her husband had passed away any more. So from there on when my aunt asked for her husband, my cousin would say, "...oh he's just popped out; he shouldn't be too long." This proved to be much kinder for my aunt and she lived out the remainder of her days content and comfortable.


This story illustrates how small adjustments can have a big impact on someone's life.


Ashfield Voluntary Action provides a range of services and resources to improve the quality of life for people living with Dementia and their carers.


Some forms of Dementia can also affect how people move and their fine motor skills can be affected. This can mean that eating a meal can become a messy experience. The practical solution is to cover people's everyday clothes to help to keep them clean. But this does little to maintain the dignity of someone already having to cope with the challenges of living with Dementia. Someone came up with the brilliant idea of a 'dignity bib'. Okay, so the name is rubbish, but the idea is great and it even allows you to do your bit for the environment at the same time.


A 'dignity bib' is typically made of a shirt front, and is usually but not always, for men. It allows the man to wear something that looks like a regular shirt, but protects his clothes at the same time. Women of the same generation, are more likely to have worn a 'pinny' whilst cooking and may feel more comfortable about covering up to protect their clothes. Nevertheless, we are also looking at making 'dignity bibs' for women too.


Ashfield Voluntary Action is working with Forget Me Not and the wider community to provide dignity bibs locally for those who would benefit.


This is where you come in. We need people to help us make dignity bibs for men and women either living with Dementia and also for adults in care home settings with a learning disability. Contact AVA for a pattern and instructions, grab yourself a couple of laundered shirts and join our FAVA team. Click HERE to learn more about joining our FAVA team. Not only will you be helping our community, but as dignity bibs make use of pre-loved shirts, you are doing your bit for the planet too by reducing the amount of clothing that goes into landfill. 


Ashfield Voluntary Action also needs those who can knit or crochet to make Twiddle Mitts. Click HERE for more information on this. 


To find our more about the ways we work to support people living with Dementia and their carers click HERE and check out the News and What's On sections of our website regularly, as we have new acitivities and resources all the time.


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