Dementia – What You Can Do for Your Community
By Fiona Foley, National Co-ordinator, Dementia: Understand Together in Communities
As part of World Alzheimer Month this September, the Meath Chronicle, in partnership with the HSE’s Dementia: Understand Together campaign, is featuring a series of articles on aspects of life with dementia. In this first article of the series, we focus on community and what you can do to support people with dementia and their families locally.
Stigma is a significant barrier for people with dementia in living as well as possible. It can prevent them seeking support and stop others talking to them, excluding them from community life. Dementia: Understand Together aims to raise awareness and increase people’s understanding of dementia, to inspire the nation to stand together with those affected.
The majority of people with dementia in Ireland live in the community. These communities have been going through significant changes this year that have brought challenges for people with dementia and their families. The nature of business and community services is also changing. Businesses, service providers and community champions can, and are, making a big difference to quality of life for people with dementia and their families by enabling them to become actively engaged in communities.
Making businesses, services and activities accessible to people with dementia, especially with COVID-19 restrictions changing the way we interact, is immensely important for their well-being. Alongside more than 340 community champions, over 40 national partner organisations from the retail, transport, banking, health, voluntary and community sectors have joined the campaign to help create dementia-inclusive communities.
Simple Actions There are six simple actions we can all take to support people with dementia and their families:
· See the person, not the dementia
· Talk about dementia
· Ask how you can help
· Stay in touch
· Support the person to keep up hobbies and interests
· Make sure your space or service is easy to use
The Dementia: Understand Together campaign has created tip sheets for businesses and community-based organisations to support them in making their services dementia-inclusive. To support our community champions, we have a range of resources including our virtual Champion Cafés where you can connect with other champions and listen to interesting guest speakers, as well as providing guides, flyers, and badges for distribution.
The Dementia: Understand Together campaign is led by the HSE in partnership with the Alzheimer Society of Ireland and Age Friendly Ireland. For information on supports such as weekly Virtual Dementia Cafés for people living with dementia and family carers, as well as information on how to become a dementia champion in your community, visit www.understandtogether.ie or Freefone 1800 341 341 (Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm, Saturday 10am to 4pm)
Article 2: Dementia – Enjoying Life and Staying Safe