Studies show one in three people are set to be affected by dementia.
And local health groups are launching a unique Dementia Friendly Saturdays initiative to raise awareness of dementia and challenge misconceptions people may have.
Elaine Bostock, of Kirklees Dementia Action Alliance, and Sandra Croft, of Greater Huddersfield CCG, said around 5,600 people living in Kirklees may have some form of dementia, but they only know about 3,750 (67%) of them.
They hope Dementia Friendly Saturdays will help.
It’s not an onerous task on businesses as it asks shops and businesses to raise awareness of dementia among staff; to think of ways to support customers with dementia; to improve signs such as considering a coin recognition chart; and promote dementia-friendly ways of working with others.
Elaine said: “We want to raise awareness of dementia within the community and enable people living with dementia and their carers to access the support they need.
“Sadly people may feel there’s still a stigma so in highlighting the symptoms among a greater number of people through Dementia Friendly Saturdays we hope to make it easier for people with dementia to feel more supported.”
It will begin in Lindley on January 21. Shops and businesses will be asked to sign up to the four-pledge-scheme; there will be a drop-in and workshops at the library, and Lindley schools are being asked to create a forget-me-not flower as part of a competition to raise awareness among young people.
Elaine explained: “We ask people to consider the simple things like thinking about where signs are placed in shops or on doors.
“Another way is at the check-out, some people might be slower at packing bags so if we can show understanding so they don’t feel pressure that’s an easy way to help.”
Sandra added: “Sometimes small changes can massively help, we want to enable people with dementia to be independent, to carry on doing their shopping but often it’s avoiding the high street that is the first thing people struggle with. They lose confidence and stop shopping.
“National prevalance figures suggest that one in three people will be affected by dementia and it’s expected to hit two million people nationally.
“There are things to help if people come forward early enough instead of waiting until it gets to a crisis point.
“We know that people might fear it, but if we can change the public’s perception and encourage more support it will help reduce any fear people may have.”
If Dementia Friendly Saturdays successful it will be rolled out to other towns and villages. To get involved email firstname.lastname@example.org.