Well the sunflower lanyard sparked debate on Twitter this week…..I love a good debate on Twitter with playmates especially as long as it doesn’t get personal…..so I’d thought I’d reflect on my experience and my thoughts on the debate……what I say may spark more controversy, more debate….but at least it will get people talking…..
Yes I’d love to live in a society where I don’t have to wear a lanyard to highlight I might need help , where everyone understood, but we don’t, simple as that and we’re such a long way from that nirvana…..if it will ever exist.
If we don’t highlight in some way that we need help, how will people realise? Staff are often too busy to pick up subtle cues of confusion, of need, so at least a lanyard stares them in the face and might make them think – not all staff have ‘got it’ yet, as I’ve experienced, but those who do, have showed me nothing but kindness. When stressed on a journey, kindness is what I need to reduce the anxiety and if a lanyard provides that kindness, so be it.
Not everyone is strong, is confident, is verbally capable of stating their needs, their Rights……some people need that crutch to help them in their daily existence. Something visible for others to see. If you’re not one of these people simply don’t wear it…..and that’s fine too…
Not everyone needs to wear it. Some people feel empowered not wearing it….both totally fine…
I travel this country extensively, on my own, trying to remain independent ..but it doesn’t come without immense challenges…..i rely heavily on the k8ndness of strangers. if a simple lanyard can help me then I’m glad I’ve found them.
The lanyard doesn’t diminish the Rights we have. The lanyard doesn’t highlight we have dementia, so we’re not labelling ourselves as such. It’s for ANY hidden disability, and that’s why I like them. It simply highlights the fact we’d like your help and understanding and might need some extra help.
We mustn’t create a two tier system within people with dementia themselves , how sad that would be….it exists already in the form of some groups have louder voices – , the poor, the black & ethnic minorities, the travelling community, LGBT, and soooo many others being far quieter …but we’re desparately trying to rebalance in so many areas.
Not everyone wants to go public, wants to speak, has the confidence, they have no desire to speak out…and that’s fine, that’s their choice ………but we shouldn’t make people feel bad for wearing a lanyard, if it makes them feel safe, feel able to travel, feel able to go out into their own community, surely that’s a positive….?
As a playmate said on Twitter, ‘its an education tool. It can start conversations’….that for me is the bonus. Of course I’m a person before the dementia, but sadly it follows me everywhere, clinging to me like the proverbial limpet all the time, so I’m more than happy to say, ‘I have dementia, can you help me?’…I’ve often found that elicits questions, starts a conversation……..
It’s certainly started an interesting conversation on social media.
One person questioned whether the wearing of the lanyard might make us vulnerable to those that might take advantage of us….but we’re not highlighting the fact that we have dementia, we’re highlighting that we have an invisible disability, so for me the advantages outweigh the down sides. And in life in general, those of us living with dementia expose ourselves daily to those who can take advantage of us, especially those of us who speak out.
I sometimes can’t think quick enough to say I need help, I sometimes don’t realise quick enough that I need help so the lanyard is hopefully a visible clue to staff.
What would make me very sad is to see people with dementia creating 2 camps, one criticising the other for wearing or not wearing ……we have enough to cope within society, we don’t need that criticism amongst playmates as well.
I’d like to think we would all respect each other views, each other’s preferences, after all that’s just what they are, our views. Yes its all about choice….and I’ve chosen to wear it and promote it, because in my humble opinion, it will make a difference to many…..