Dementia Friendly Initiative gets going with big turnout at Sidney event

Training for businesses, individuals coping with dementia.

Stasia Hartley

The Alzheimer’s Society of B.C, Sidney All Care and Bayshore Home Health have been working towards getting Sidney dementia-friendly, promoting initiatives within the town.

The Dementia Friendly Initiative came about through the Alzheimer’s Society of B.C. It’s looking to have towns and cities become more dementia friendly because of the stigma related to those with dementia.

“Sixty per cent of people who live with dementia are still living in the community, people are going into care a lot later in the development of their dementia,” said Jon Yurechko, marketing and communications co-ordinator with ther Alzheimer’s Society of B.C.

“There’s more and more people who live with dementia but are still living semi-independently or participating in the broader community as opposed to in a care home or a more medicalized context,” he continued. “So what we’re trying to do is reach out to as many people as possible because then, that way, the community is much more dementia friendly because it’s much more educated about language and being helpful in different ways…”

He said with the amount of people in the community with dementia, the society wants to make sure everyone can be as helpful as possible.

“We’re all affected by it and they want people to become more aware of symptoms and how people are with this and so the initiative is to have communities become more aware and know how to deal with situations that might arise,” said Colleen Frampton, client service co-ordinator at Bayshore.

She said a woman went into a bank in Sidney recently, thinking it was her pharmacy. In that situation, the community helped out, but that isn’t always the case, which is why the initiative is in place.

In terms of reaching out in Sidney, Terra Munro, community relations manager with Sidney All Care Residence and Stasia Hartley, area director for Bayshore Home Health, have been contacting businesses.

“We kind of canvassed all of Sidney or most all of it, just speaking about the dementia friendly initiative, trying to encourage businesses to send a representative to come out to either Nov. 5 or our November 18 training,” said Munro.

Hartley said in terms of Sidney’s population affected by dementia, it’s about the demographics.

“So, they’re part of our community either shopping, banking, you know, using community facilities.”

“With support and understanding, people can live safely at home as long as there’s a community that cares around them and understands,” Hartley said.

She added organizers are targeting businesses as part of the community initiative. The training is also for the general public who are dealing with dementia in their home, who want to know more about how and what to look for and how to respond.

Province-wide, the initiative was developed to reduce the stigma in local communities. In Sidney, there are two events promoting the initiative. One was a movie night and silent auction on Nov. 5 at Sidney All Care, which  Hartley said was a big success, seeing 135 people in attendance from the community. Pianist Sky Mundell played for the first 45 minutes before the movie, Alive Inside, was shown, preparing the audience for the inspiring message that would be delivered through the film on the positive effect music brings to those patients with Alzheimer’s.

The next event is on Nov. 18, which is more of an educational workshop and an event to learn strategies and gain more understanding about dementia and how to cope with it, how to react and have those learning strategies with loved ones.

“Coping skills for yourself, coping skills that will then include the person with dementia because it’s hard on both parties, they don’t know what’s happening to themselves sometimes and other times it’s just a world that they live in and it’s very confusing to them as well as the person who is the caregiver…” said Frampton.

Hartley said the event on the 18th is really where it starts to happen, with the education and helping the community learn about dementia and how to deal with people who may have it, along with families who are dealing with it .

“It’s really for people who are either in the workplace and they want to know more about dementia and the potential of having a customer come in the door who might have dementia or how they might respond or connect with them,” she said.

The events are by donation and proceeds will go towards the Alzheimer’s Society to make sure that programs such as these continue on.

So far, a total of $2,133.40 was raised by the one event alone and organizers will be holding open the donation opportunity until after the Nov. 18 workshop.