HSE shines a light on community supports available this World Alzheimer’s Month


HSE shines a light on community supports available this World Alzheimer’s Month

·        30 Dementia Advisors Available Providing Personalised Support

·        23 Memory Technology Resource Rooms

·        For more see understandtogether.ie

Marking World Alzheimer’s month this September, the HSE Dementia: Understand Together campaign is urging people across the country who may be recently diagnosed, awaiting diagnosis, concerned about their memory or having difficulty with mental tasks to seek support within the community.

There are approximately 64,000 people living with dementia in Ireland at this time. With this number expected to more than double to 150,131 by 2045, many more of us are going to be living with dementia, or supporting a loved one with the condition.

Every September, people come together from all around the world to raise awareness and to challenge the stigma that persists around dementia. This year’s theme, Know Dementia, Know Alzheimer’s is focused on diagnosis, the warning signs of dementia, the continued effect of COVID-19 on the global dementia community and more. 

Professor Sean Kennelly, Consultant Geriatrician and Director of the Institute of Memory and Cognition, Tallaght University Hospital said: “The diagnosis experience can understandably be challenging, and for some people, being told they have dementia can feel completely devastating at first. An integral part of a dementia diagnosis disclosure is to empower people with a sense of hope that they can continue to “live well” with dementia, and that the diagnosis doesn’t define them. There has been significant investment into care and support services nationwide in recent years meaning that vital support can be accessed more easily than before. There are now 30 Dementia Advisors working with people with dementia, their families and carers across the country. They are on hand to support people every step of the way and provide a personalised, free and confidential information and signposting service helping to connect people with supports and services and keep them engaged in their community”.

“While the aim of the month is to continue to raise awareness and understanding of dementia, we’re also encouraging communities to take actions that will help to include and support those affected by the condition. We know that people with dementia are more likely to experience social isolation and staying socially active and engaged can make a real difference to a person’s health and well-being. Whether that’s simply meeting a friend for a coffee, taking part in a favourite hobby, joining in with a community group like The Men’s Sheds or attending a dementia café; there are a range of local supports out there that can help slow progression and positively affect a person’s mood and overall health. We would urge people not to wait but to get involved with their local community groups and to support others. A full list of these support groups are also available on understandtogether.ie.”

Another key service which has seen recent investment and development are Memory Technology Resource Rooms (MTRR), a free national service providing practical information and advice on assistive technologies and support strategies to help people at different stages of dementia and memory loss.

Emma O’Brien, Senior Occupational Therapist and Clinical Lead for the HSE National Memory Technology Resource Rooms Ireland explains:

“The MTRRs are run by occupational therapists who provide a person centred approach based on your needs, responding with practical solutions to problems you are experiencing. One key feature of the MTRRs is the wide range of assistive technology on demonstration; from basic key finders and orientation clocks to medication dispensers, telecare and home safety. These assistive technologies can help compensate where memory is affected, promote independence, communication and safety, supporting the person to continue engaging in meaningful and daily activities. The value of the MTRR is the expert advice you’ll receive from the OT who has developed an understanding of how these technologies work and their benefits and considerations. Not all assistive technology will suit everyone and receiving a consultation at the MTRR can help find a solution that works for you.

“The MTRRs also provide education, practical strategies and simple solutions such as reminder signs, checklists, daily planners and much more are discussed based on your needs. Also provided is information and advice on stimulating activities and meaningful engagement and the MTRRs showcase a range of these to give ideas and inspiration. You can download the At Home Activities Booklet here for more ideas on activities and useful apps. 

Please note Memory Technology Resource Rooms do not sell any of the assistive technologies but can provide information on where to purchase them. To find your local Memory Technology Resource Room please visit the www.understandtogether.ie website.”

There are many types of dementia that can affect people in many different ways. It’s important to acknowledge that everyone’s experience is unique and that not all treatment will be suitable for everyone. With more than 4,000 people with dementia in Ireland aged under 65, dementia affects people of all ages and should not only be seen as a disease affecting older people.

If you are concerned about dementia, support is available, we work with the Alzheimer Society of Ireland to provide a national helpline, call free on 1800 341 341 (Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm, Saturday 10am to 4pm). For more information on dementia and services in your county, visit understandtogether.ie.

Last updated on: 31 / 08 / 2022