Drive for Penwith to become dementia friendly community

Wed 28th May 2014
Louise Southwell

A committed band of volunteers are working to support the lives of people in Penwith who are living with dementia through the launch of a new group.

Chaired by Louise Southwell, partner at Coodes Solicitors in Penzance, the Penwith Dementia Action Alliance has been set up to work towards a “dementia friendly community”.

She is joined by co-chair Vic Wallis of St Ives Memory Café, Age UK Cornwall & Isles of Scilly, the Alzheimer’s Society and Rotary Club of Penzance and St Ives.

Through the alliance, Louise, who is also chair of Age UK Cornwall & Isles of Scilly, and her fellow volunteers can offer training in working with people who have dementia.

There are thought to be at least 9,000 people living with the condition in Cornwall, around 2% of the population, and this number is set to rise along with an aging population.

Dementia describes a set of symptoms that may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language. These changes are often small to start with, but for someone with dementia they can become severe enough to affect daily life.

Louise was motivated to help set up the Penwith Dementia Action Alliance through her role as a private client solicitor specialising in older people. During her day-to-day work, she regularly draws up wills or Power of Attorney documents on behalf of elderly clients.

She said: “We want to support people with dementia to live as normal life as they can. Sometimes people discriminate against those with dementia without even realising it.”

“Through our training, we advocate being friendly and open, be simple about what you are saying especially when discussing complex subjects, and give the person time to answer your questions.

“We should also listen carefully, and think about using body language or other ways to communicate non-verbally.”

Nigel Clark of Age UK Cornwall & Isles of Scilly added: “Through small changes, we believe we can make a positive difference to the quality of life of people living with dementia, their families and carers.

“We are encouraging businesses and organisations to join our alliance, where we can offer advice or formal training to anyone in the Penwith community, where new diagnoses of dementia are being made every week.”

Contact Penwith Dementia Action Alliance though email penwithdaa@gmail.com

Wed 28th May 2014

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