Today we had an excellent clergy training afternoon at the Dementia Services Development Centre in Stirling University’s Iris Murdoch Centre. For us, it offered a chance to learn about the condition and its impact on the lives of the sufferer and their family. For the Centre, it was a way to showcase their services, improve awareness and care, and also perhaps to recruit some lobbyists for improvement in funding and services.
I hadn’t realised how close dementia in its various forms is to depression, and how they may be confused. I also hadn’t realised how important the living environment can be. The Centre has a design unit which is a flat kitted out with all the gadgets that can help, and also things like the use of colour (all floors blue whether carpet or vinyl; yellow doors to the toilets and bright red loo seats).
There were sensors to monitor when someone got up or down or moved around; electronic dispensers which beeped when it was time for a pill (or for evening prayer, as one of us quipped); plugs which would react to the weight of water and drain off excess to avoid a flood if taps were left running – even a device to turn off the gas if left on.
All really good for helping to keep people in their homes as long as possible – a kind of absent minder for the absent-minded.