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"One of the most common misconceptions is that people with dementia lose their independence"

Who are you and what is your role at Age UK Sheffield?

My name is Mark Egglestone and I am an Enhanced Independent Living Coordinator (ILC). I support those in later life with maximizing their level of independence. This can include helping to increase their social interaction, accessing the community, receiving a financial benefit check and obtaining equipment and adaptations for the home to name just a few. As an enhanced ILC I also supervise two other ILC’s and represent Age UK Sheffield at external meetings.

There can be a lot of misconceptions and sometimes even stigma surrounding dementia. What do you think is the most common misconception? Conversely, what do you think the first thing that people hoping to understand more about dementia should know?
One of the most common misconceptions is that people with dementia lose their independence. However, dementia affects people in different ways. Even though certain aspects of independence may be reduced, this can be limited by making adjustments to their day to day lifer. Extra stimulation such as taking part in social activities keeps the mind active and helps to manage the affects.

Age UK Sheffield runs the Wellbeing Centre, a day centre specifically for people in Sheffield who have mild to moderate dementia or memory loss. When you first visited the Centre, what was your initial impression?

Smiles all round, varied activities, homely environment. Some traditional ‘day centre’s consist of attendees sitting in a circle playing bingo all day. However, the wellbeing centre gets rid of this stigma, instead focusing on what stimulates each attendee.

Do you have any thoughts or advice from your experience of supporting people with dementia?

Treat with the same high level of respect as anyone else. At the end of the day they are still an adult and should be treated as that. In doing so it is important to maintain a high level of patience as it can take time for information to be processed. There may also be many occasions when they will repeat themselves. However, do not seem surprised, treat as though you’ve heard it for the first time.

Are there any changes that you can think of in your local area that could be made to make Sheffield a more age friendly place to live?

Ensure that those in later life are able to access services as easily as others. For example, don’t limit services to online only and reduce over the counter services. Increase options for social activities for those living with memory loss.