A campaign has been launched to turn Wrexham into a dementia-friendly town.
The aim is to obtain dementia friendly status for the town through an Alzheimer’s Society Cymru scheme and a new steering group has been set up to enlist support.
Supporters in include the Pendine Park care organisation, Boots, Tesco, the Alzheimer’s Society Cymru, Wrexham Football Club Supporters Trust and Avow.
Staff from Pendine Park were at the Eagles Meadow shopping centre to inform the public and answer questions about the devastating condition.
Enrichment co-ordinators Anita Moran and Olivia Thomas, manned an information desk to answer questions about the condition and remove some of the stigma around the illness.
Anita, who works at Hillbury Care Home in Percy Road, says they had been busy answering questions from people who had relatives who had been diagnosed with dementia.
She said: “An early diagnosis of dementia is really important. There is medication available that will slow the condition down, at least for a while, although there is no absolute cure.
“A dementia diagnosis doesn’t mean life stops. People can still live active meaningful lives even if there has to be some changes to a person’s normal routine.
“Dementia is so misunderstood and we find people are frightened to ask what are really important questions. We are trying to ensure people can spot the signs of dementia and know what to do if a relative is diagnosed with the condition.”
Anita has also set up a Facebook page to help promote Dementia Friendly Wrexham.
She said: “We have only recently got together. I realised one person alone couldn’t achieve all that needs to be done to make the town truly dementia friendly.
“We are concentrating on shops and transport initially. Making sure store staff and people like bus and taxi drivers are aware of the signs of dementia and are able to help people with the condition should they need to.
“It’s going to take some time to achieve our goals and within a month we will be recognised by the Alzheimer’s Society as working toward being a dementia friendly town.”
She added: “Anyone who would like to come to one of the steering group meetings to learn more about what we are doing can find out when meetings are being held through the Facebook page. We would be delighted to see some new faces.”
Olivia Thomas, who works across all Pendine Park Care Organisation sites, said: “We have spent time at Glyndwr University, Coleg Cambria and Tesco as well as coming here to Eagles Meadow.
“It’s also important shop staff know how to spot the signs of dementia so they can help someone with the condition. We would like to see more shops become dementia friendly with staff trained in how to deal with customers who may have the condition.”
She added: “We have had an amazing reception from the public who have asked us lots of really interesting questions and taken away information and advice sheets to read in their own time.
“It’s important to get out into the community so we can spread awareness of dementia to the general public.
“Relatives visiting family members in our care homes are only too aware of the effects of dementia and know what signs to look for.
“That isn’t generally the case when it comes to the wider public and we would always advise that if someone has a concern over a relative or friend then try to get an early diagnosis, it really can make a huge difference.”
Pendine Park proprietor Mario Kreft MBE said: “We are very enthusiastic about the idea of turning Wrexham into the first properly dementia-friendly town in the UK.
“I was originally inspired to become involved in the care sector because of the trouble we had in finding suitable care home for my grandparents.
“My grandmother had Alizheimer’s so the campaign also has a personal resonance.”
Eagles Meadow manager Kevin Critchley was delighted to welcome Pendine Park staff to the shopping centre.
He said: “A dementia diagnosis is frightening and its vital people know what to look for and how to get help. I’m grateful to Anita and Olivia for spending time at Eagles Meadow and providing an information point.
“If it helps just one person to get an early diagnosis or answers a family’s questions about what to do and the signs to look for it’s been a very worthwhile exercise.”
Dementia Friendly Wrexham’s Facebook page can be found at https://m.facebook.com/dementiafriendlywrexham/