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LETTER: Become a dementia community champion

Saturday, 24th August, 2019 5:05pm
LETTER: Become a dementia community champion

Have your say: Write to editorial@southernstar.ie

SIR – It is estimated that there are over 6,400 people living with dementia in Cork, and that number is set to increase as national figures indicate that over 4,000 people will develop the condition across Ireland every year.

Dementia is caused by different diseases of the brain. There are over 400 different types of dementia, with Alzheimer’s disease the most common. Dementia is most likely to develop in older people but can occur at a younger age too.

September is World Alzheimer Month and the HSE-led Dementia: Understand Together campaign is asking readers of The Southern Star to support the campaign by becoming a dementia community champion. Community champions are at the heart of this movement which aims to create an Ireland that embraces and includes people with dementia, and that displays solidarity with them and their families.

Champions bring together local people, and can inspire those around them to take action that will support and help people with dementia and their families remain active and connected within their own local community.

Here are the six actions that we can all take this September:

  1. See the person, not the dementia. A diagnosis certainly brings challenges and change, but dementia is only one part of a person’s life.
  2. Talk about dementia. Help raise awareness and understanding by organising information sessions and sharing experiences.
  3. Ask how you can help. Sometimes we can be unsure what we can do to support a friend or neighbour, so just ask them. Small things can make all the difference.
  4. Stay in touch. A diagnosis of dementia often leads to isolation so continue to call or drop in for a chat as you always did.
  5. Support the person to keep up hobbies and interests. Ask clubs and community groups to ensure they are welcoming and accessible so that everyone can continue to do the things that they enjoy.
  6. Make sure your service or space is easy to use. Encourage businesses and service-providers to review their premises to ensure that they are accessible and inclusive.

By taking one small action, you will be making a big difference to the lives of people with dementia and their families in County Cork.

If you are passionate about dementia and want to see your community becoming dementia-inclusive, then I’d encourage you to get in touch with Fiona Foley, Dementia: Understand Together in Communities, by emailing fiona.foley1@hse.ie

For more information on dementia and how to get involved, visit www.understandtogether.ie/get-involved.  If you are concerned about dementia, support is available on our Freephone 1800 341 341.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Suzanne Timmons,

Clinical Lead,

HSE National Dementia Office,

Block 6, Central Business Park,

Clonminch,

Tullamore,

Co Offaly.