DCU’s Dementia Elevator programme has successfully completed a national roadshow this September that specialised in spreading its message and educating people about dementia.
The programme, that strives to educate people, communities and health systems engage with and support people with dementia, travelled around different locations including Cork, Limerick, Donegal and Roscommon earlier this year.
Dementia Elevator was developed by DCU and the HSE to assist people to engage properly with people with dementia.
The programme takes a hands-on approach towards educating individuals, some of whom have been directly affected by dementia whether in the form of a sibling, spouse or other relative.
Programme coordinator Kate Irving completed a degree in nursing in DCU before going on to specialise in the research of dementia. She has been teaching and researching dementia for over fifteen years.
“I am passionate about people being able to age in place and for that to be possible for people with dementia there needs to be a more community focused response,” Kate said.
Kate believes that the general attitude towards those affected by and suffering with dementia needs to change in order for communities to move forward.
“We’re trying to change sympathy that most people feel towards people with dementia, which helps no one, to support, of which a small amount can help lots of people.”
With a significant rise in levels of dementia in Ireland in the past few years, Kate stressed the importance of the younger generations getting involved in the programme and becoming aware of how to deal appropriately with people suffering with dementia.
“4,000 people in Ireland with dementia are under 65 so it is not common but a significant number could be the age of your parents,” Kate said.
Kate explains that 50 per cent of the risk of getting dementia is lifestyle related. Being overweight, binge drinking, drug taking and poor diet are all factors that can contribute to your risk of getting dementia.
According to research in dementia one of the biggest factors, however, is smoking.
“People need to understand if they smoke their risk of dementia at age 75 is doubled. That might not make anyone stop smoking but it is not worth keeping it a secret either.”
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