Cuimhne Pack Dementia Week 2016
Dementia Awareness Week starts on 15th May 2016
Don’t forget – memory loss!
Dementia Awareness Week starts on 15th May 2016 – what can you do to mark it?
Whilst “dementia” is a word that many people have heard of, myths and misunderstandings abound about what it may actually mean! Yet it affects so many of us – did you know that by 2021, the estimated number of people with dementia in the UK will have increased to around 1 million. And it is not just older people that have dementia – according to the Alzheimer’s Society, back in 2014, over 40,000 people under 65 years of age in the UK were living with dementia and 1 in 3 people over 65 will go on to develop dementia. Dementia affects not only those with memory loss, but has an impact on friends, family and the community too. And for all sorts of demographic reasons, it particularly affects us within the Irish community in Britain.
Whilst there is currently no cure for dementia, there ARE things that we can do within our community organisations and cultural groups to support people living with memory loss, their families and carers to remain involved and included within our communities.
7 steps your group could take towards supporting, involving and including people with memory loss within the community….
1. RAISE AWARENESS ABOUT DEMENTIA WITHIN THE COMMUNITY
Support your team and community members to become more informed about what dementia means and what can be done about it. You could invite a guest speaker from a local dementia support group, or contact Irish in Britain on 0207 697 4060 to find out about special free training we can offer to Irish community groups wanting to understand more about memory loss.
2. HELP PEOPLE TO REMEMBER EACH OTHER’S NAMES
People sometimes have difficulty remembering each other’s names and may feel awkward coming to community centres because of this. To help people out here, why not invite staff volunteers and group members to wear name labels?
3. HELP PEOPLE FEEL COMFORTABLE FINDING THEIR WAY ABOUT YOUR BUILDING
Good signage (eg to toilets) can really help people with memory loss. Signs should be put up at eye level. Sometimes people with memory loss have difficulty reading words. Volunteers with computer and artistic skills could help create visual signs for your building. You might even find some volunteers who would like to get painting – painting doors in contrasting colours to walls can help people identify them (and vice versa painting doors to cleaning cupboards in matching colours to walls may help prevent people opening them!)/
4. ENCOURAGE HEALTHY EATING
Eating healthily can help prevent the onset of dementia. People with dementia with other health conditions such as diabetes or heart conditions may need to take extra care to eat healthily. When you are running events, avoid leaving biscuits out on plates – a person with memory loss who may not remember how many biscuits they have eaten may just keep helping themselves! Why not offer fruits as an alternative healthier option?
5. TAKE THE TIME TO LISTEN TO PEOPLE’S STORIES
People with memory loss may not be able to remember what happened in the recent past but may still be able to recall the more distant past and have fascinating stories to share. You could set up coffee and reminiscence sessions for people to share their memories or run a special project to help people create Memory Books. Memory loss and accompanying anxiety can sometimes make people withdraw socially – when you are planning activity sessions remember conversation time is important too!
6. START A MUSIC GROUP
Group singing and music–making can be a great way to bring people together and music is a great tool to engage people with memory loss. Find out what songs people would like to sing, don’t assume everyone likes Irish folk songs! People who find reading or remembering words difficult may like to join in with small percussion instruments (eg castanets / tambourine). Music may inspire dancing too – a great way to exercise!
7. SUPPORT FAMILY MEMBERS AND CARERS
Dementia does not just affect those with memory loss, but also impacts on family, friends and the wider community. People caring for loved–ones may need support too. You could set up a peer support group in your community where carers themselves set the agenda for meetings and invite guest speakers to lead discussions and share information about practical local support (eg health professionals and people working with charities and organisations that can offer support services such as family relationship counselling and carer respite)
Please do share your good practice and the steps you have been taking to offer dementia friendly activities and services with Irish in Britain and we will celebrate the good work you are doing on our website!
Please click here to download our Dementia Week 2016 Resource Pack