Marking World Alzheimer’s Awareness month this September, the HSE Dementia: Understand Together campaign is urging people across the country who may be recently diagnosed, awaiting diagnosis, concerned about their memory or having difficulty with mental tasks to seek support
There are approximately 64,000 people in Ireland living with dementia at this time. With this number expected to more than double to 150,131 by 2045. More of us are going to find ourselves living with dementia, or supporting a loved one with dementia.
Every September, people come together from all around the world to raise awareness and to challenge the stigma that persists around dementia. September 2022 marks the 11th year of this vital global awareness raising campaign.
This year’s theme, Know Dementia, Know Alzheimer’s, continues on from the 2021 campaign, which focused on diagnosis, the warning signs of dementia, the continued effect of COVID-19 on the global dementia community While the campaign raises awareness and understanding of dementia, it also encourages communities to take actions to include and support those affected by the condition. Staying socially active and engaged is vital for a person’s health and well-being and local community supports such as dementia cafes, the Men’s Sheds, choirs or walking groups can address this need
One of the key services which has seen recent investment and development are Memory Technology Resource Rooms (MTRR), a free national service providing practical information and advice on assistive technologies and support strategies to help people at different stages of dementia and memory loss.
Emma O’Brien, Senior Occupational Therapist and Clinical Lead for the HSE National Memory Technology
Resource Rooms Ireland explains:
“The Memory Technology Resource Rooms (MTRRs) are a national service established by the HSE. The MTRRs are run by occupational therapists who provide a person centred approach based on your needs, responding with practical solutions to problems you are experiencing. One key feature of the MTRRs is the wide range of assistive technology on demonstration; from basic key finders and orientation clocks to medication dispensers, telecare and home safety. These assistive technologies can help compensate where memory is affected, and promote independence, communication and safety, supporting the person to continue engaging in meaningful and daily activities. The value of the MTRR is the expert advice you’ll receive from the occupational therapist who has developed an understanding of how these technologies work, their benefits and considerations. Not all assistive technology will suit everyone and receiving a consultation at the MTRR can help find a solution that works for you.
The MTRRs also provide education, practical strategies and simple solutions such as reminder signs, checklists, daily planners and much more are discussed based on your needs. Also provided is information and advice on stimulating activities and meaningful engagement and the MTRRs showcase a range of these to give you ideas and inspiration. You can download the At Home Activities Booklet here for more ideas on activities and useful apps.”
People who wish to visit their local MTRR can make contact and arrange an appointment, a map of the rooms and contact details are available on the UnderstandTogether.ie website.
There are over 400 types of dementia and conditions can affect people in many different ways. It’s important to acknowledge that everyone’s experience is unique and that not all treatment will be suitable for everyone. Dementia should not only be seen as a disease affecting older people. The general public should be aware of brain health and how they work to reduce risk factors in their own day to day lives.
If you or a loved one is concerned, you can speak to a dementia adviser at The Alzheimer Society of Ireland on Freephone 1800 341 341 (Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm, Saturday 10am to 4pm).
For more information on dementia and services in your county, visit www.understandtogether.ie.
For a list of dementia advisors in your local area and further information on more community supports visit the Understand Together website on www.understandtogether.ie/get-support/service-finder/