Being a student at university gives the best opportunities to make some of the most exciting memories, and meet new people who could become friends for life. But what with being busy students with dissertations to write, seminars to prepare for and an obligation to attend Fruity every Friday, we can sometimes forget the moments that made us the people we are today.
I’m sure we can all remember our first days at secondary school, college and university, but can you clearly remember the first time you met your best friend, the first time you rode a bike without stabilisers or your first kiss? Being young and carefree, (well sort of, we still have to do some work!) makes it easy take for granted memories that we really should treasure for the rest of our lives.
This is the first photo of the girls I lived with in my first year on the second night out in fresher’s week 2012!
For people who are diagnosed with dementia, these memories become particularly important because of the fear of forgetting them. In Leeds alone, around 9,000 people have dementia, with but only half having been given a diagnosis. This means that it can be a very lonely time for those who haven’t been diagnosed, especially without support from organisations that know how to cope with dementia.
In an attempt to stop this, Leeds is becoming a more dementia friendly place. And with the ambition of being the most ‘dementia friendly’ city of the North, this will hopefully encourage other cities across the UK to do the same. Leeds City Council is supporting initiatives to train people who might come into contact with dementia, so that they have a better understanding of how to treat them. Supermarkets and libraries in Leeds are being approached to ask staff if they would like the training so that in the future they can recognise signs that could be indicative of dementia. This would help put an end to scenarios where people with dementia are misunderstood or not given the help they require whilst out food shopping or finding a book in their local library.
Sadly, with dementia related illnesses, short-term memory tends to be affected first. This means that memories from years ago suddenly become remembered more vividly than something that happened yesterday. As people are, in general, more likely to discuss things that happened recently, someone who has dementia would be excluded from the conversation. Sporting Memories Network has tried to stop this by developing resources in fifteen care homes across Leeds that will teach staff, volunteers and relatives to plan and deliver sports-based reminiscence activities. The idea is that these will help residents with dementia to recall their own favourite sporting memories and tell their own stories.
Logo courtesy of http://www.sportingmemories.org/
Rather than me tell you about the positive effect this initiative is having on those in the care homes where these resources are being used, watch ‘Bill’s Story’ using the link below.
By taking the time and patience to learn about the history of someone’s life and about the memories that are important to them, you could be giving them more than you realise. People love reminiscing about the times in their lives that made them smile, and people with dementia enjoy remembering as much as we do – they just need someone who’s willing to help them remember.
Dementia Friends is another initiative run by the Alzheimer’s Society which is encouraging anyone of any age regardless of what they know – or don’t know – about dementia, to become a ‘dementia friend.’ Their aim is to have a million ‘dementia friends’ in the UK by 2015, a target being supported by the government. By volunteering at the start to help those with dementia and understand more about it, you could be making someone feel included and cared about in their community.
Sometimes all people need is someone to willingly sit with them to help them discover the memories which they thought were long forgotten. And whilst you are listening to someone tell the stories that made their lives great, you might even remember certain times in your life that you had buried deep in the past because of concerns about your future.
Logo courtesy of http://www.number10.gov.uk/news/dementia-friends/
Having photographs of a particular event or day is a brilliant way of making sure your memories can always be remembered and celebrated. As much as I love being tagged in the photos from my most recent night out on Facebook I love having photos stuck up around my bedroom and stuck on the fridge so that I don’t have to log onto my laptop to see them.
My dad also made a jewellery box using photos from my childhood, and despite the numerous other jewellery boxes I have, this one will always hold sentimental value and remind me of times that I might otherwise have forgotten. This would be very easy for anyone to do and would make a lovely gift for someone.
For eight years now I have kept a diary documenting my life so that at any point I can look through them and relive a particular day, week or moment that I felt was important enough at the time to write down. Many people find it hard to believe that I’ve done this, but it’s true! Some people might argue that memories are in the past and aren’t worth the effort or time to remember, especially when you have so much to look forward to in the future, but I believe our memories make us not only the people we are today, but the people we will be in the tomorrow. I say celebrate them, and make them count!