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Hampshire firms come together to create a more dementia-friendly world
AS dementia threatens to devastate more families than ever in Hamp-shire, businesses have joined forces to help make life that little bit easier.
Latest figures have revealed that numbers of people living with the debilitating disease in Hampshire will shoot up by 30 per cent to 24,000 within just seven years.
So shops, leisure companies, transport providers and charities have all united to embark on a mission to create dementia-friendly communities that will offer sufferers a chance to live independently for as long as possible.
More than 100 people representing business across the county celebrated the launch of the Hampshire Dementia Action Alliance to prove their commitment to making the world a safer and more welcoming place for those living with the condition.
One of the first to sign up was Mike Taylor, manager of Fareham Shopping Centre, which has vowed to take a vital role in helping to ensure dementia patients have somewhere they can shop.
Mr Taylor said: “While dementia can affect any age range, it predominantly affects the older generation and as Fareham Shopping Centre serves an older demographic, we could see our involvement would be beneficial from a business perspective.”
At the heart of the concept of a dementia-friendly community is the need to improve the quality of life for dementia sufferers, by listening to their needs with the aim of developing a wider understanding of the condition.
With more companies and organisations on board, people with dementia can enjoy the simple things in life, such as shopping and playing golf, without fear of being judged or left isolated.
Councillor Anna McNair Scott, from Hampshire County Council which helped launch the drive in collaboration with the charity Mind, said: “This is part of the way the council is adapting to meet the changing needs and aspirations of older people by developing new ways of providing care and support which will help people to remain as independent as possible, for as long as possible.
“Making communities better places to live for people with dementia is something we want all Hampshire’s organisations to sign up to, not |just health and social care groups. “By better understanding the needs of those with dementia we can give people with the condition the help they need to retain their independence and carry out their everyday activities.”
Speakers at the successful launch of the event, at the Norton Park Hotel, near Winchester, included Hampshire resident Simon Quarrell, 63, who gave an insight into what it is like to live with the condition.
During his working life he was an adviser to governments and major corporations but in 2012 he was diagnosed with semantic dementia – a progressive loss of the ability to remember the meaning of words and faces.
He said: “I hope that by getting involved I can help people with dementia and also the companies who want to support this initiative.” Debra Ramchurn, chief executive officer of Andover Mind, added: “We were delighted to see so many different organisations coming together at the launch in |support of people with dementia. “Our local co-ordinators are looking forward to working with more organisations on their action plans in the coming months.”
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