3rd April 2023
“It sends a strong message that I am a valued and respected member of my community - living with dementia is a new life but you have got to embrace it,” according to Kathleen Farrell, a member of the Irish Dementia Working Group, speaking as a new symbol representing dementia inclusive communities was launched in recent days. Kathleen said she was “delighted to be involved in developing” the symbol and added that she was “looking forward to seeing it when I am out and about. Being able to travel and attend appointments or use my bank is very important to me and it is very supportive to think that businesses and communities are making changes that mean I can continue to do the things I enjoy and stay connected in my community.”
Almost half of Irish people say they know or have known someone living with dementia. There are approximately 64,000 people living with the condition in this country and this is set to increase considerably which means that more and more people will be affected by dementia in their lifetime.
Hundreds of people from local groups and partner organisations ranging from retail, transport, banking, health and the voluntary and community sector are all taking action to create dementia-inclusive communities. Research shows that people now know more about dementia and are more empathetic towards people living with the condition compared with only a few years ago. Attitudes are changing. However, it’s also known that misunderstanding of the condition still exists and social isolation is often more likely for a person with dementia.
According to Sean O’Dowd, Consultant Neurologist and Clinical Lead for the HSE National Dementia Office: “Social isolation is often more likely for a person with dementia. Staying socially active and engaged in their communities can help those affected in many ways. So it is wonderful to see so many people and organisations embracing this new community symbol.
“As well as slowing the progression of dementia, it can positively affect a person’s mood and overall health and well-being. Seeing this symbol displayed and people’s commitment to learn more about the condition, will help people with dementia to retain some independence and routine and feel more open to new opportunities.”
The HSE and its partners are calling for more people to get involved and join the many people and businesses across Ireland who are already taking action. It is known that simple things like staying in touch with a friend or family and supporting someone to keep doing the things they enjoy, can make a big difference.
Janette Dwyer, Assistant National Director, HSE Services for Older People, Change and Innovation, added that the new initiative “represents positive support for people with dementia, helping them to feel considered and seen in their own communities. I am delighted with the response to this and we will continue to work closely with new and existing partners and champions to build communities that are inclusive of everyone.
Learn more about the dementia symbol campaign and sign up to get involved