BEING diagnosed with dementia doesn’t mean you have to lose your independence.
That’s why staff across various stores in Portsmouth are signing up to become Dementia Friends.
Maureen Levesque, 53, is a full-time carer for her husband Mick, 70, who has dementia.
Mrs Levesque, of Ludlow Road, Paulsgrove, said: ‘People with dementia often struggle with big crowds, especially when you go into big stores.
‘Sometimes I realise Mick isn’t with me, or if I sit him down in a cafe so I can get shopping, staff aren’t sure how to help.
‘But it’s important to get out because it’s social, and with help can provide some independence.
‘My husband enjoys gardening and may need to buy tools.
‘It’s not something I know about, but dementia-friendly staff who are patient with my husband would be able to help him.’
Stores signed up to the scheme, which is the idea of the Alzheimer’s Society charity, will teach staff to be patient with those struggling, and they will wear a Dementia Friends badge at work.
The Argos store in Commercial Road, Portsmouth, is taking part.
Kevin Farrell, store manager, said: ‘The Alzheimer’s Society is our charity partner for this year and we want to help people living with dementia stay in their own homes and be part of the community for longer.
‘A Dementia Friend learns a little bit more about what it’s like to live with dementia and then turns that understanding into action.
‘Staff here will become aware of being more patient with a customer paying at a till point to communicating more clearly over the telephone.’
It is hoped stores such as Homebase, Marks and Spencer and Lloyds Bank will soon follow suit.
As reported in The News, stores in Fareham were some of the first in the county to sign up to becoming dementia-friendly.
Angie Newing, the Alzheimer’s Society’s regional director for the south, said: ‘Many people with dementia tell us that shopping and visiting their local high street can be very stressful.
‘But this scheme brings us a step closer to becoming a dementia-friendly society.
‘We applaud Argos, Homebase, Marks and Spencer, and Lloyds Banking Group on their commitment to help their staff in Portsmouth understand more about dementia.’