Acting on dementia – inspiring people working to improve the dementia experience

Written by Jack Walsh17/05/23


Dementia Care
Dementia Action Week is Alzheimer’s Society’s awareness campaign, which runs yearly to encourage people to ‘act on dementia’.
At Elder, we want to shine a light on the people and companies taking action to improve the lives of those living with dementia, how they do this and why – and hopefully, inspire others to act on dementia in some way too.

The Founder

Rianna Patterson is an activist and the founder of the Dominica Dementia Foundation – a youth-led organisation with the purpose of raising awareness of dementia. The foundation provides emotional support to families and caregivers, while helping to facilitate research towards dementia in Dominica. 

When Rianna was 16 years old her grandfather passed away with dementia in Dominica. She noticed the lack of understanding about dementia in public health facilities, andfelt that her community needed a place to learn and share resources about dementia.

Rianna went on to start the Dominica Dementia foundation when she was 18, and her mission now is to be a part of building a dementia-friendly island – and world, through consistent advocacy, helping create public policy and more community engagement. 

So far, the Dominica Dementia Foundation has supported care homes in Dominica affected by Hurricane Maria in 2017. They also host a support group, where people from Dominica and those of Dominican descent attend can share resources on dementia care via Zoom and previously have had practitioners from the NHS join to talk about diet and other health advice for people living with dementia. 

Rianna and the Dominica Dementia Foundation also visit care homes to do art and dance therapy with residents. As a youth-led organisation they pride themselves on creating intergenerational experiences, which prove beneficial for those with dementia and the young volunteers. Rianna says these activities are where they see residents really light up, expressing joy when songs are played that they can sing along to. 

The foundation also provides food parcels to care homes and families caring for someone with dementia, to ease stress and financial burdens.

Rianna hopes that in the future everyone in all walks of life will be knowledgeable and empathetic enough to support people with dementia in the community, while empowering people living with dementia to live well.

How to support the Dominica Dementia Foundation

If you’d like to support Rianna and the Dominica Dementia foundation, there are several ways to get involved. The foundation offers a student ambassador volunteering programme, as well as volunteer opportunities for the dementia friend programme, which was adapted from Alzheimer’s society UK.  Donations and fundraising is also an appreciated. You can also help Rianna to fund her study of Dementia: Causes, Treatment and Research Masters at the University College London by donating here

The innovator

Relish was started in 2008 when Ben Atkinson-Willes, Relish’s CEO, tried to find something he could do with his grandad as he progressed through the latter stages of Alzheimer’s Disease.

He encountered difficulty finding a suitable activity for his grandad that both accommodated his changing abilities and was appropriate for adults. As a result, he created a puzzle. The puzzle went down so well, that Ben made more, and began researching and refining activities specifically tailored for individuals with dementia. Today the company has over 70 specialist products)

Since the inception of Relish, (previously known as Active Minds), their goal has been to  enhance the well-being of individuals with dementia by supplying enjoyable and significant activities that help foster their connections with their loved ones, acquaintances, and caregivers. 

Relish hopes to encourage a sense of freedom that comes with discovering new things by oneself, and allowing those living with dementia to drive their own choices and actions. 

Relish’s social impact

Relish has improved the well-being of over 1,000,000 people affected by dementia. Their research shows that their products have helped improve social engagement for 70% of the people using their products, and 78% feel more included after using them. 

Relish also helps to improve the everyday lives of people affected by dementia by creating free podcasts that share practical learnings and tips. There is also a wealth of document helpful well-being guides available on their website

The carers 

Despite the challenges that come along with caring for someone with dementia, The carers Elder works with are superhumans who are committed to improving the lives of people living with dementia every day. Read some of the most inspiring stories we’ve received over the past 12 months below. 


“Mum may have struggles remembering, but her body had remembered Sophia. There was a calming and mum finally settled from the disruption of Christmas.

Simply, Sophia knows what to do. But of course, it’s more complex than that. Sophia has an intuitive way with mum that is difficult to put into words. Her softness, empathy and love for this old lady means that mum constantly feels safe and secure. There are times when Sophia has to be positively assertive, and this way is effective- but the respect never changes. The eye contact and smile that encourages mum to stand and move are magical and consistent.” 


“Denise enhances Mum’s life. In some cases this involves driving Mum 40 miles for family visits and pub meals. On other occasions she collects one of Mum’s friends for tea parties or dinner, allowing the ladies to have a good catch up and natter. Denise engages Mum in craft projects such as making Christmas or Easter decorations and has played a full role in refreshing Mum’s wardrobe with suitably cheery, well priced additions, combining this with ‘pamper days’ when practical.‘

A few weeks ago Mum looked at the newspaper and remarked that the date was her wedding anniversary. They reminisced about the wedding day and life with Dad. Denise then went out to buy flowers matching the colours of her bouquet and returned to cook her her typical anniversary meal.” 


“Jennifer – our carer – is lovely, she has really settled in well. She has got to know mum and what she likes and doesn’t like, and she just does that. She has started baking cakes, doing magic painting with Peggy, taking Peggy out and about. She just does it, you don’t need to ask her to do anything.  In some ways, Jennifer knows her better than I do! Peggy is very happy with her – whenever Jennifer goes out of the room she says ‘she is really very good you know’ about her.

It has made my own life a lot easier, as I know Jennifer will just sort things out, I don’t have to worry.”

Read more about carers who have improved the lives of those needing care here

For more information on how you can support others or get involved during dementia action week, Alzheimer’s Society have various resources and advice available on their website.

Discover more of our articles on dementia

From dealing with a diagnosis and understanding the implications to getting advice on how to live well with the condition, our extensive resources will help guide you through what can be a tough and emotional moment.

Our phone lines are closed right now

Opening hours:

Monday 9am – 7pm
Tuesday 9am – 7pm
Wednesday 9am – 7pm
Thursday 9am – 7pm
Friday 9am – 7pm
Saturday 9am – 5pm
Sunday 9am – 5pm