Dementia :: Three little words spell independence for people with dementia

The words ‘I have dementia’ meant Bill Wilson could collect a prescription for his month-old grandson. Using a pocket-sized helpcard carrying this phrase, Mr Wilson was able to take home the medication while the pharmacist called a relative to explain the dosage.

Now people with dementia across the country can secure this same independence, with the launch of the Alzheimer’s Society dementia helpcard.

Designed by people with dementia for people with dementia, the helpcard provides an effective and discrete tool for people to explain their diagnosis when they are out on their own. Carried inside a purse or wallet it includes contact details for a carer, friend or relative.

The helpcard from the charity’s Living With Dementia project was put together following requests for something to support people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. During trials, volunteers like Mr Wilson, recorded how they used the helpcard to explain their diagnosis in shops, taxis and during trips to the dentist.

Mr Wilson says:

‘I was at the pharmacy for my grandson when they started explaining how to give him the medicine. I became very confused and produced the helpcard. The pharmacist immediately acknowledged it, took the number of someone to call and passed the information on to my daughter-in-law. The helpcard made a real difference in a lot of places.’

The helpcard is available in three designs, so people can choose how they describe their diagnosis. One says ‘I have dementia’, another ‘I have memory problems’ and the third ‘I have Alzheimer’s disease.’ The easily identifiable helpcard will also raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia and has been welcomed by the emergency services as an important aid to supporting people with dementia.

Neil Hunt, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, says:

‘This helpcard is about empowering people and supporting them to maintain their independence. For carers it is a way of reassuring them they can let a partner go out and be by themselves for a while. This is something people with dementia have been asking for and will also help businesses to give people with dementia the best possible customer service.’

The helpcard is available from the Living With Dementia team at the Alzheimer’s Society and from more than 260 branches of the charity across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. People should contact their local branch for more information or telephone 020 7306 0785.

Leave a Comment