ACCORDING to the Oxford dictionary dementia is “a mental disorder marked by memory failures, personality changes and impaired reasoning”.
However, that barely hints at the anguish felt by family members when a loved one is beset by these harrowing symptoms. More often than not in the past, the condition was swept under the carpet and the sufferer kept out of sight, as if dementia was something to be ashamed of rather than part of the natural ageing process.
Fortunately, at least judging by what is happening in the Waterford town of Dungarvan, those days have well and truly gone. Realising that as people grow older, dementia is becoming more commonplace, 13 businesses are training with the aim of learning how to help people who might have the telltale symptoms of dementia among their customers.
The motivation comes from Waterford’s Home Instead Senior Care group which recognises that a new model of care is needed for dealing with dementia and Alzheimer’s sufferers. The training course is run free of charge.
Thanks to its groundbreaking initiative, Dungarvan will be the first dementia-friendly town in the country. At a time when Ireland has a veritable tsunami of dementia, with 48,000 sufferers, there is every reason why other towns should follow this inspiring example of how effective a caring community can be when it decides to welcome and give a helping hand to a person who may be confused or disorientated.
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