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By Erin Smith

The Dementia Friends leadership group met on Tuesday and discussed how best to raise awareness of dementia in Bladen County. Dementia Friends Coordinator Kelly Robeson said a lot of people have expressed interest in having a Dementia Friends information session at their place of business or church.

One idea discussed is to conduct a Dementia Awareness event for Bladen County residents and business owners.  The Dementia Friends Leadership Group talked about planning events in the summer and fall.  No official date was set.

Many Bladen County business owners still are not aware of what Dementia Friends is or how they can earn a designation as a Dementia Friendly business. Dementia Friends is an initiative which is seeking to change people’s perceptions of dementia.  The Dementia Friends session helps individuals to learn about dementia and the small ways you can help.  Businesses can earn a Dementia Friendly designation for their business by taking the Dementia Friends training session.

“I’ll be glad to go out wherever I’m needed,” said Robeson of the training sessions.

Susan Bagget, who is assisting with dementia training, stated she is attempting to obtain permission to offer dementia training to staff at Bladen County’s long-term care facilities.

Some tips for dealing with individuals who have dementia are:

*Treat them with dignity.

*Avoid talking about the past.

*Be patient and supportive.

*If someone is having trouble communicating, be patient and supportive and offer encouragement.

*Encourage nonverbal communication.

*Speak clearly with a relaxed tone of voice.

*Avoid confusing or vague statements.

*Reminiscing is helpful but avoid asking questions like, “Do you remember me?”

For more information regarding Dementia Friends or how you can obtain Dementia Friends training for your business, contact Robeson at 910-872-6330.