Year 11 pupils will I.A be attending and presenting work at an event organised by the Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning group which hopes to inform BME communities about Dementia on Wednesday 16th November 2016.
The event will address the myths, facts and fears about Dementia and how to seek help and support. The pupils’ role on the day will be to inform others about their participation in the Intergenerational Dementia Project and how their perceptions of Dementia have changed as a result of it.
We will also be presenting why both, Islamic values and British values, hold a great onus of care in the community and how that has been one of the contributing factors which lead the school to participate in this ongoing project.
The event is due to be held at the Friendship Café, Chequers Bridge, on Painswick Road.
At the beginning of this year our class participated in a project about dementia. The project was about the significance of dementia, possible symptoms of dementia, how dementia affects people’s day to day lives, what we could do to prevent dementia and how to help people who have dementia.
This project ties in with the Government’s strategy on Dementia. Currently, the government is working towards the development of dementia friendly communities. Its challenge on Dementia sets out to overturn misconceptions about dementia. At the heart of this development is helping people to understand the condition so that people can live well with dementia.
Two themes run through the Prime Minister’s Challenge;
Key to developing dementia friendly communities is an increased awareness about the impact of dementia, both, on those living with the condition and those who care for them. By educating our generation about Dementia we can begin to develop our understanding of it.
Engaging in this project opened our eyes to symptoms of dementia. It also defeated the assumption that there is nothing we can do to improve the lives of people with dementia because we can, and we will.
There were many things we did as a part of the project. We had people from our local community and other organisations come in to talk to us about dementia. Some people also shared their own experiences of dementia with us. We learnt a lot of things from them as they helped us gain a deeper understanding about dementia and how dementia has such a huge impact on not only on people who have it but also on their family and friends.
Teachers and mentors from the GHLL delivered sessions for us using different activities and presentations. A Dementia Champion from the Alzheimer’s Society also came in to deliver a talk to us. We were able to ask questions within these sessions and engage with people who knew a lot about dementia.
We also had a trip to skillzone where we looked at different every day struggles a person with dementia may face. For example, things that we hardly think about and take for granted, like making a cup of tea, may cause immense stress to a person suffering from dementia as they forget simple sequences as they suffer with memory loss.
We also delivered an assembly to Al-Ashraf primary school where we discussed the different stages of dementia and played memory games with them to make our session as interactive as possible. This enabled us to initiate some great conversations from the younger children.
The thing that stuck with me the most is that dementia does not only affect one person – it affects everyone else around the person including family and friends; the people who love you and care about you the most. Therefore, dealing with dementia can be extremely difficult and can have devastating effects if you do not have help from others or know how to get help. This was extremely obvious from the discussions we had with people who had first-hand experience of dementia.
What also stuck with us is that dementia has nothing to do with old age and it is NOT a natural part of ageing. You can get dementia from the age of 30 to 65 years old. Dementia at a young age is called Young Onset Dementia; it is also referred to as ‘early onset’ or ‘working age’ dementia. This really stuck with me as it reminded me that dementia could affect anyone and our lifestyles and eating habits could contribute to it, which is quite a scary thought.
We also learnt that dementia is not a disease in itself. It is a collection of symptoms that occur when our brain cells stop working.
It is important to be aware of dementia and there are many reasons for this:
Firstly, as we have mentioned, it is not a natural part of ageing. So if we notice the signs and symptoms of dementia then we are liable to help as it is not natural and we should approach the subject with someone who can help.
Also, the elderly community is increasing. We therefore need to be better prepared to look after them, as well as ourselves. If we have an understanding of it then we will feel more empowered to make decisions about our care as well as others.
Moreover, if you are living with someone with dementia then it can have an impact on you and them mentally, socially, physically and emotionally. If you are aware then you have a better understanding of how frustrating it must be for the person who has dementia. They don’t mean to be like that. It’s because they are restricted by Dementia!! Also you can support them so they can live well with dementia.
Another reason is to get rid of the stereotypical views society holds about dementia. People with dementia can look after themselves given the right support. People with dementia can make decisions for themselves given the right support. Most of all, people with dementia haven’t just ‘lost it’, they are still the same people with feelings and thoughts, with families and friends, with hobbies and habits, they still want to be loved, and they still need our support despite the memory loss restrictions they are facing. If we educate people about dementia then we are not restricted by such stereotypical views.
In the last few years, there has been a renewed interested internationally in the plight of the elderly. Many conferences and researches have emphasised that often the elderly are not given the respect and dignity that every human being needs, even if they are provided basic care.
As Muslims, taking care of ourselves, care in the community and caring for the elderly are extremely important aspects of our faith. In particular, compassion and respect towards the elderly is an essential element of Islamic conduct. The Prophet of Islam (Peace Be Upon Him) stated:
“He is not one of us who does not show mercy to the young and who does not show respect to the elderly.”
To explain this narration - the cycle of life, the youth and old age are only a matter of time, for one who is young, must surely grow old one day. Islam reminds the young of this basic truth of the human condition.
Another narration of the Prophet (PBUH) states: “If a young man honours an elderly on account of his age, God appoints someone to honour him in his old age.”
The Prophet (PBUH) here advises young Muslims, who will be tomorrow’s elderly, to honour the elderly. In Islam, we believe that the continuous application of this Prophetic advice would bridge the gap between generations and would spread an atmosphere of love and understanding between the young and the old.
Islam also holds a great importance about caring of ourselves and showing mercy to others. These ethics are extremely important in relation to dementia as firstly, we need to look after ourselves in order to minimise the risk of such diseases, we need to care about the elderly and give them the best care as responsible Muslims and responsible Citizens, but also as active members of our society, it is our right to make sure that we are well-educated on things that impact us and our society and that we know how we can help prevent it. In this way we are fulfilling every person’s Human Right to be respected, to be helped and to be cared for.
This is why it was extremely important for us as an Islamic School to participate in this Intergenerational Dementia Project and we hope that we are able to disseminate our knowledge that we have learnt to as many people as possible.
Thank you for listening.