Dementia sufferers find peace in a rural setting.
PEOPLE affected by dementia visited a farm in west Wales to take part in a range of activities including milking time and a rural reminiscence session.
The event, held jointly by Alzheimer's Society Cymru and the Countryside Alliance Foundation, is part of the charities' broader campaign to engage people with dementia in rural areas.
A report last year by Alzheimer's Society Cymru estimated that over 17,000 dementia sufferers in Wales live in rural areas. Marcia Vale, Dementia Friendly Communities co-ordinator for west Wales, said: "It's wonderful that we have had access to the farm and are working with partners such as the Countryside Alliance Foundation to develop the Dementia Friendly Community movement in west Wales.
"This has given people with dementia who have a farming background a great opportunity to spend time on the farm, relive past experiences and enjoy the activities that take place there.
"Rurality brings about an additional set of challenges for people affected by dementia. Rural areas are less likely to commission services specifically for people with dementia, access can prove difficult as transport links are often poorer and there are barriers such as a lack of Welsh-language services. These factors can all make it more likely that people in rural areas will experience feelings of isolation and loneliness". Rachel Evans, director of Countryside Alliance Wales, said: "It is hugely important that organisations like the Countryside Alliance Foundation work with other sectors to contribute to the improvement of health and wellbeing. By working with our members and supporters we can provide opportunities that can make a real difference."
Jamie McCoy of Gorwel Farm, Newcastle Emlyn, added: "Most families are touched by dementia and ours is no different. It has been an absolute pleasure to able to contribute in a small way by hosting this group of former farmers, and I hope their time spent on farm has provided some enjoyment, reminiscence and time to reconnect with livestock."
Alzheimer's Society Cymru has pressed for the Welsh Government's new Together for a Dementia-Friendly Wales strategy (expected this autumn) to address ways to better support the specific needs of people living with dementia in rural Wales.
Alzheimer's Society Cymru director Sue Phelps said: "Research is desperately needed to best understand what the issues surrounding rurality are and the extent of the problem to enable us to plan and deliver effective information, support and services that are accessible and responsive to the needs of on people affected by dementia in rural Wales."