SCILLY TO BECOME 'DEMENTIA FRIENDLY COMMUNITY'
Alzheimer's Society is working with professionals and carers on Scilly to help the islands become a dementia friendly community.
The organisation recently hosted a drop-in session at the Wesleyan Chapel, with Service Manager Teresa Parsons offering guidance and information about the condition.
She said that the turnout during the day was "amazing".
"The amount of information that went out was unbelievable," she said. "There was one family that were here for an hour. The man had just been diagnosed with dementia - they live in Kent and were here on holiday. They couldn't believe it when they saw the sign for the drop-in session.
"They haven’t had any support and when they came here and saw all the information and said they never thought there was anything like it available."
She said that a dementia diagnosis can be scary when there is insufficient information, but people can live well with the condition.
"Dementia is on the increase because people are living longer. There are now two million people with dementia in the UK and because of awareness raising initiatives we are slowly breaking down the stigma around the condition. People are recognising symptoms and going to see their GP if they're worried about their memory. Lots of soaps are portraying it and it's in the media, so it’s becoming normality. We try to say that people can live well with dementia."
The Council's senior officer for health and wellbeing Joel Williams, who helped organise the session, added: "One of the key messages we're trying to promote is that dementia isn't a life sentence. It doesn't mean your life is coming to a crashing halt. You can still live well."
The drop-in sessions, which will take place every quarter, are one of a number of measures being taken to help Scilly become a dementia friendly community. Teresa is working with Age UK's Living Well Co-ordinator Elaine Leijser to ascertain what activities can be provided to support people with dementia. An island resident has been trained as a Dementia Champion and is holding awareness sessions which she hopes to roll out into the school.
There are also plans for a steering group made up of the professionals who are supporting those with the condition on the islands. A carer and an islander with dementia will also be part of the group.
Teresa added: "It's really just about educating people about dementia so they've got basic knowledge about it, about how they can provide support.
"We're trying to turn negatives into positives, for instance, saying someone is living well with dementia instead of suffering with it."
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