A woman and man holding a sign that says "We've just become dementia friends"

As one of the biggest social action movements to change the perception of dementia, Alzheimer Scotland is pleased to celebrate a major milestone by reaching 90,000 people becoming a Dementia Friend, one for each person living with dementia in Scotland.

As we continue to see fewer families now untouched by the illness, Dementia Friends Scotland aims to transform the way the nation acts, thinks and talks about the condition, as well as challenging the stigma of dementia which still exists for thousands of families living with the illness. Introduced in 2014, the initiative has gone from strength to strength engaging with individuals, communities and businesses across the nation.

Welcoming Dementia Friends Scotland’s latest milestone, Henry Simmons, Chief Executive of Alzheimer Scotland, said: “When we introduced the Dementia Friends initiative to Scotland in 2014 we could never have imagined that by this year we would have reached 90,000 Dementia Friends. It is simply remarkable that so many people in Scotland have become a Dementia Friend, each and every one them playing their part in building a dementia-friendly Scotland and sending a message of support to their fellow citizens who are living with dementia that they care about them.  

“It is reassuring, but not surprising, that so many individuals throughout Scotland are willing to make their mark by becoming a Dementia Friend. When we ask the Scottish public for their support we are never let down and this has been exemplified by their support for this movement and by the remarkable number of people who have supported our Fair Dementia Care Campaign, turned out for our Memory Walks, volunteered in our localities and Helpline, signed up to participate in research and helped raise funds to support our work.

“We owe all of our Dementia Friends and supporters a huge debt of gratitude and on behalf of everyone at Alzheimer Scotland, I would like to express our most sincere thanks for helping us achieve this milestone and we look forward with hope to achieving many, many more.”

As an employee within SKY’s customer service team, Linzi Kelly, who took part in the Dementia Friends Scotland initiative in her workplace, said: “I took part in a Dementia Friends information session at work and found the session really insightful. In the matter of a few hours I had learned so much about what it is like to live with dementia and how you can turn that understanding into an action. Becoming a Dementia Friend is so valuable, and it came in to play when I went into hospital recently, especially after I found out that the lady across the ward from me had dementia. When I noticed the lady was having some challenges and was unsure of where she was, I asked the nurse if she would bring the lady over to talk to me and we ended up chatting for hours. I managed to help to calm her down and feel better. I would never have known what to do if it wasn’t for taking part in the Dementia Friends session at work.

“If you’re not already a Dementia Friend, please consider becoming one. It doesn’t cost anything, and you can seriously help people living with dementia with just that little bit of understanding of what people are experiencing.”

Ian Lauder Wallace, a Development Specialist with SKY, added: “It is so important for big companies like SKY to offer as much support as possible to customers with additional needs including those living with dementia. One of the best parts of my week is delivering this information session in association with Alzheimer Scotland’s Dementia Friends Scotland initiative, simply because dementia impacts so many of us in our professional and personal lives.”

The Dementia Friends initiative aims to give people more insight into the condition and the real challenges people living with dementia face. It demonstrates the small changes that can often make a big difference to people living with dementia such as adapting how you speak, giving clear information, removing some of the challenges that can cause confusion and changing behaviour – such as simply being patient in a queue. Find out about dementia and what’s it’s like to live with the condition by becoming a Dementia Friend.