The Alzheimer’s Society challenges stigma with Christmas poem penned by dementia patients

The Alzheimer’s Society wants to give a voice to those living with dementia this Christmas, turning a moving poem written by people who have the condition into a bold animation.

The unique seasonal message, written by members of Ashford’s Dementia Peer support group in Kent, has been brought to life in order to challenge some of the myths surrounding the condition and prevent feelings of exclusion during the overwhelming festive period.

As part of a workshop supported by the charity and run by writer Susanna Howard, people with dementia penned a poem to relay the isolation faced by those living with dementia. Design studio Bold & Bold, illustrator Stephanie F Scholz, animator Javi Marquin and sound engineer Jason Gosling then created a colourful animation based on the words.

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive at Alzheimer’s Society explained: "Everyone who has been involved in making this special animation either lives with dementia or has a personal connection to it.

"At Alzheimer’s Society, we’ve heard how Christmas can be an overwhelming experience, with many feeling stressed out, lonely and unable to join in the festivities. We hope this animated poem will help to challenge some of the misunderstandings and stigma that so many people with dementia deal with, helping people to see Christmas through their eyes."

The animation is voiced by actor Gary Fairhall, who is the primary carer for his mother who is living with dementia.

To coincide with the campaign, which is running online, Alzheimer’s Society has also come up with five ways of creating a 'dementia friendly' Christmas, including gradually introducing Christmas decorations into the home and encouraging dementia patients to sing carols to help them communicate and trigger festive memories.

You can read the poem in full below.

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 …

Paddington station

Woosh….

Friends pass me by

‘Don't leave me out!’

Smiles, without seeing,

pretending everything’s ok

Wait!

I’m lost

Like to hideaway

the Grandchildren

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

So…

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

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