Dementia is increasingly significant to the daily lives of rural people.
Dementia mainly affects those over 65 and, given increasingly elderly populations in the countryside, will make a significant impact on people living in the countryside. Rural and farming communities face significant challenges, including how to:
- support growing numbers of people living with dementia
- overcome isolation in the provision of services
- encourage communities to support those with dementia
- run farm business when farmers or their families have dementia.
Geographers and researchers working at the University of Plymouth have contributed to a growing base of evidence on the impacts and issues of dementia in rural places. Dr Claire Kelly and Professor Richard Yarwood conducted a year-long study into the impacts of dementia on farming families in Devon. They were supported by Ian Sherriff (Academic Partnership Lead for Dementia at the University and Chair of the Prime Minister’s Rural Dementia Friendly Task and Finish Group) and Joanne Jones of the Farming Community Network.
The work received widespread coverage in the media, including reports on Countryfile and BBC Breakfast. Findings from the work went on to inform the ‘Dementia-friendly Rural Communities’ guide published by the Alzheimer's Society in May.
The research identified four areas of concern:
1. the farm environment, which posed dangers for those living with dementia;
2. a reluctance to ask for help or plan for the future;
3. isolation from support services, and
4. the changing nature rural communities.
This workshop offered a chance to learn from current research on rural dementia and to work with researchers to identify solutions to these issues. The workshop:
- presented findings from recent work on rural dementia
- worked with practitioners to identify solutions
- considered how to improve working practices to care and support those living with dementia.
We invited practitioners, policy makers and people living with dementia to attend this meeting and share their experiences and advice on dementia, the countryside and good working practices.