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Dealing with dementia

Watching a loved one grow old can be scary. Add dementia to the mix, and proper care becomes all the more important.

The Island's ageing population has led to a rise in the number of people affected by the disease.

It's a trend that has been noted at Westmeath.

Caregivers there are now in the process of raising $100,000 to convert a part of the residential and nursing care home into a purpose-built facility for persons living with dementia.

It's hoped all necessary changes will be in place by next spring.

In the interim, Westmeath has launched a campaign to help raise awareness and create a dementia-friendly community.

“Dementia is on the rise as we have an ageing population,” said the Pembroke home's administrator, Chrissie Kempe.

“There's no special facilities that help families and individuals in need and we have had a dramatic increase in demand for care of individuals living with dementia.

“Westmeath likes to ensure people know they can live well with the right support and the right environment.

“We're converting a portion of the home into a dementia-friendly space to properly care for individuals living with dementia.

“We feel it's important but it does require a different level of trained care.

“We have begun [offering that care] but we need to raise funds to ensure we can change the environment to ensure that it's safe, maximises independence and is comfortable.”

About 80 per cent of residents in nursing homes have a degree of dementia, according to statistics.

“Some are high-functioning, some need minimal support and others are in the later stages,” said Ms Kempe.

“Some can no longer function without around-the-clock care.

“This will be devoted to them.”

Westmeath's Memory Care Unit will help individuals with dementia through a balance of “safety, healthcare and meaningful, engaging moments”.

“It's important to have an environment that allows them to do that successfully,” Ms Kempe said. “We want to have an environment that is dementia-friendly and reflects a personal, homelike environment where seniors feel comfortable and have easy access to their living space and things that engage them.

“Whether it's gardening or reading the newspaper or listening to headphones, we want it to be accessible to them.”

The home is now campaigning to get residents to “Be Dementia Friendly”. Visit www.westmeath.bm for tips on how to support people with dementia and their carers.

“Our hope is to bring awareness to Bermuda how we can all make a difference and support individuals living with dementia in Bermuda,” said Ms Kempe.

“Living well with dementia is possible. We ask you to make a difference with us.”

The peace of a garden: Westmeath residents Nell Tindall and Libby the cat in the garden that will become part of the home's new Memory Care Unit for individuals living with dementia

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Published December 03, 2014 at 8:00 am (Updated December 03, 2014 at 2:05 am)

Dealing with dementia

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