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20 activities to help people with learning disabilities understand dementia

Handbook produced by Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities provides guide to group sessions and visual promptsGuidance has been issued on how social workers, care staff and personal assistants can help people with learning disabilities understand about growing older and living with dementia.

The handbook, produced by the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities, sets out 20 activities to engage people about the changes that may occur as they get older. It includes guidance on the timings and format of each session and includes a series of visual prompts that can be used.

The guidance is based on the learning from running group sessions at two pilot sites: a shared house for six people with learning disabilities where one of the housemates had developed dementia and a small day centre for older people with learning disabilities where one person had dementia.

Christine Towers, who authored the handbook, said that more needed to be done to help people with learning disabilities understand changes linked to the ageing process.

“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,” she said.

“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.”