A new handbook, Talking Together: facilitating peer support activities to help people with learning disabilities understand about growing older and living with dementia is being launched by the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities on Wednesday 20 May as their contribution to Dementia Awareness Week – http://www.learningdisabilities.org.uk/content/assets/pdf/publications/talking-together.pdf?view=Standard.

Christine Towers, who wrote the handbook after facilitating peer support groups with Cindy Glover, said:

More needs to be done to help people with learning disabilities understand the changes associated with the ageing process and dementia. People with a learning disability are at greater risk of developing dementia compared to the rest of the population and the risk is significantly higher for people with Down’s syndrome.

“The timing of this handbook is particularly important because with the move from residential care to supported living, more people are in shared houses in the community and will need support to cope with dementia if they or one of their housemates develop the disease.

Talking Together is comprised of 20 participative activities to talk together, share experiences and have fun whilst developing understanding: this approach encourages empathy and active involvement rather than simply giving information.

Group sessions were run in two places, one a shared house for six people, one of whom had dementia and a day centre for older people with learning disabilities where, again, one person had dementia.

The handbook should be particularly useful for staff in day centres or residential care, health practitioners in community teams and personal assistants.

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