Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram is to set out his commitment to people affected by dementia during a special week of events to mark Dementia Action Week across the Liverpool City Region.
Running from May 17 to 23, Dementia Action Week will feature singing, dancing, and exercise classes as well as support and advice sessions for people living with the condition and their family carers.
More than 18,000 people live with dementia in the City Region and new research has revealed how the Covid-19 lockdown increased isolation and accelerated mental health deterioration.
The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority is seeking to become the first to gain Dementia Friendly Community status, which is awarded by the Alzheimer’s Society.
Mayor Rotheram will speak at a live online event on Friday, May 21, as part of a week of web-based activities staged by organisations from across the Liverpool City Region.
Speaking ahead of the event, Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said, “I know from personal experience that the difficulties of watching a loved one battle with dementia can be a very cruel and difficult experience. Those who care for them are absolute heroes in very challenging circumstances. It’s something that nobody should have experience alone.
“I want our region to be the most dementia friendly place possible, drawing on the best of the warm, caring nature that our region is so proudly famous for.
“We’ve partnered with a range of local charities to deliver a fantastic week of activities that I hope will give some much-needed comfort and respite to dementia sufferers and their carers alike. Ours is and will always be a caring and inclusive city region for all.”
Dementia Action Week events will include information about the condition and how to find help, family carer forums, talks on research and legal matters and special items on Young Onset dementia.
Sessions will also help people learn more about the condition so they can become a Dementia Friend within their community.
Liverpool-based The Brain Charity will be hosting a Music Makes Us! dance and physiotherapy event at 11am on May 19. The online workshop will include a live singer and dancer and involve guided exercises – all set to popular lively tunes for people living with dementia.
The Brain Charity’s specialist team will take participants through exercises, which are beneficial for agility and mobility, to help maintain balance and flexibility and minimise the risk of trips and falls. The exercises are specifically for people living with dementia.
Earlier this year The Brain Charity revealed how people who could no longer talk, began to sing to The Farm’s anthem ‘All Together Now’ and others with severe mobility problems began to dance to The Beatles.
Music is known to activate different pathways to speech in the brain, and not only stimulates endorphins but can transport people living with dementia to happy moments in their pasts.
The Brain Charity CEO Nanette Mellor said, “We understand the past year has been especially tough for people living with dementia. Being unable to access support service due to COVID-19 worsened quality of life for those affected by dementia in the UK.
“We also know music can play a vital role in their daily care – it stirs memories and reduces agitation.
“That’s why we are delighted to be partnering with the Liverpool Dementia Action Alliance to host a Music Makes Us! workshop as part of Liverpool City Region Dementia Action Week – so more people living with dementia can access this free, innovative music-based therapy.”
Prior to the pandemic, these sessions were run in care homes and community settings across Liverpool City Region and had already helped nearly 250 people.
It’s a similar tale at Liverpool-based Healthiness Ltd who will be running a 40-minute online seated exercise class for people living with dementia and their carers on May 20.
Established in 2011, Healthiness Ltd has helped more than 4,000 people through its exercise classes and gained national recognition for its work during the pandemic.
Programme Director Andy Ireland said they offered 40 classes a week to 400 people across the city before Covid-19 struck.
Most participants were people living with dementia and their carers, and classes were often held in care homes.
Sessions moved online when the pandemic hit with 18 weekly classes attracting more than 40,000 monthly views worldwide. However, people living with dementia and their carers were not as easy to reach due to the closure of day centres and restricted access to dementia care homes. Like The Brain Charity, they also had to cope with the deaths of many people they had helped.
Merseyside Police, Liverpool John Moores University, Mersey Care, The British Gymnastics Foundation and the University of Liverpool are among other organisations hosting Dementia Action Week events.
Liverpool City Region Dementia Advisory Group chair and Dementia Action Week coordinator Jack Coutts said, “The many excellent events planned will help to spread awareness about dementia, provide advice and support for people affected by the condition and will contribute towards making Liverpool City Region a dementia-friendly place to live.
“There is something for everyone with any interest in dementia during the week and we are hoping for excellent attendances.”
Image: A dance session for people living with dementia, run by The Brain Charity. Image Credit: The Brain Charity.