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More support needed for rural dementia

People with dementia in rural communities are increasingly isolated, says a charity.

The Alzheimer’s Society issued the warning as it launched a new guide urging individuals and organisations in rural communities to address isolation for people with dementia, take action and better support people affected in their area.

It comes ahead of Dementia Action Week (21-27 May) to raise the profile of people with dementia – and encourage support so they feel included in their local communities and able to live the lives they want.

Some two-thirds of people with dementia live in the community, with the percentage of older people occupying rural areas as high as 56%, leading many to feel very isolated.

Dementia is the UK’s biggest killer with someone developing it every three minutes – and the Alzheimer’s Society says too many face it alone.

The guide is building upon the work Alzheimer’s Society has led, working with key individuals and organisations, to create dementia friendly villages, towns and cities.

Already over 350 areas have embraced dementia friendliness, ensuring people with dementia are empowered to live a life they want in their community.

Right to a life

Society chief executive Jeremy Hughes said: “We hear too often about how people with dementia in rural areas are denied their right to a live a life they want, instead facing extreme isolation.

“People often feel unable to participate in community life as their dementia progresses, due to lack of understanding, stigma and poor access to services and support.

“We need to see all of society, including the most remote and rural areas, uniting now and committing to the steps outlined in this guide, so that no one has to face dementia alone.”

The Dementia: Rural Communities Guide details how rural residents with dementia are often unable to access important services – including transport, shops, and healthcare.

The guide was launched at the Devon County Show on Thursday (17 May).

Dementia champion

It was developed with help from the Prime Minister’s Champion Group on Rural Dementia, individuals with dementia, their carers and partners.

The guide outlines how local authorities, businesses, parish councils and individuals can address the issues associated with rural living and isolation for people with dementia.

Ian Sheriff, chairmain of Prime Minister’s Champions Group on Rural Dementia said he had seen some fantastic work being done by rural communities to become more dementia friendly.

But he added: “There are still far too many people with dementia being forgotten.

Fully supported

“This guide is a chance to ensure that rural communities and people with dementia and fully supported and integrated into all aspects of community life.”

One small village in Derbyshire has provided a dedicated writing service for their older residents, many of whom have dementia.

Meeting in a familiar place provides a friendly place for a chat and a cup of tea which is valued by residents who enjoy conversation and discussing their letters.

For more information on how to get involved and to download the guide, please visit: alzheimers.org.uk/rural or email programmepartnerships@alzheimers.org.uk.

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