A drive to raise awareness of the challenges faced by people living with dementia is taking off after being launched in Jesmond.
Dementia friendly communities have now been adopted across Tyneside - in Gosforth, Wallsend and Gateshead.
Dementia friends are people who are aware of the condition and what it means for people living with it and their carers.
They are volunteers involved in a social action movement initiated by Alzheimers UK whereby free information sessions are delivered within communities to inform people about dementia and help them become Dementia Friends.
These sessions last 45 minutes and are run by Dementia Friends Champions, volunteers who have undergone training to become knowledgeable about the condition.
During the Dementia Friends sessions, people’s perceptions of what dementia means and entails are challenged through are variety of interactive activities.
Other objectives are to give people with dementia a stronger voice and to encourage people to take action to help members of their community with the condition, and help them to be included and involved in the community.
Dementia Friends Champion and South Jesmond Councillor Felicity Mendelson said: “Jesmond Dementia Action Alliance (JDAA) aims to make the community dementia friendly and one way we plan to do this is through raising awareness of the disease.”
They want people to realise that it is not a normal part of aging and is more than just memory loss.
As well as individuals; businesses, churches and school projects in the area are also encouraged to become involved in the scheme and become dementia friendly. A whole host of local businesses have already become involved,
Tyneside Cinema hosts special film screenings to provide a calm and relaxed environment for people with dementia to watch classic movies.
Former professional footballer Jack Vitty regularly attends these screenings along with his fellow residents at Astell Care Centre in Walker.
Mr Vitty, 72, played for Charlton Athletic and Brighton and Hove Albion in his heyday.
Astell Care Centre’s Personal Activities Leader Lauren Parker said: “Jack and other residents love coming to the dementia-friendly screenings.
“Often it’s a musical and they enjoy a good old sing song. The music seems to jog their memories.
Another Astell resident, Alex Dalziel, 81, attended a recent showing of Funny Face. He said: “I look forward to coming to the cinema and always enjoy the songs.”
Chris Anderson, the cinema’s Outreach and Development Officer, said: “We secured funding for our dementia-friendly screenings for three years in May and already they’re proving a huge success.
“We normally get around 50 people but we’ve had as many as 150. They’re open to anyone but are especially suitable for people with dementia.
“We have staff trained as Dementia Friends so they’re on hand to assist people should they need it.
The JDAA is working with Newcastle City Council, and a motion is to be put forward in November for the council themselves to become dementia friendly. This will mean they should be aware that people with dementia failing to pay bills on time, and such like is not a sign of defiance or tax-dodging, but in many cases an honest mistake due to memory issues.
Date published: 15 September 2017