National Trust stately homes to help people with dementia

People with the crippling disease often find heritage sites to be safe and familiar spaces. Historic sites, collections and stories can stimulate dementia sufferers and encourage them to get out with their carers. As the Daily Express reported this month, the National Trust already hosts Farming Memories groups at Wimpole Hall near Cambridge for former farmers and agricultural workers with dementia. 

And in Birmingham, the Trust offers monthly tours of historic houses for sufferers. 

Now all its 500 historic and country sites are to be made “dementia-friendly”. 

The Alzheimer’s Society will be involved to improve signs, facilities, paths and car parks and introduce tours and social events. And volunteers will visit care homes and hospitals with displays for those who cannot visit. 

The Alzheimer’s Society says 850,000 Britons – one in 14 people aged 65 and over – has dementia. 

The total is expected to reach a million within three years. 

The National Trust estimates that about 150,000 of its members, volunteers and staff may suffer. 

Volunteering and inclusion director Tiger de Souza said: “Dementia is the greatest health concern of our time, so it is important that people with the condition can continue to enjoy a fulfilling life. A number of our sites are already offering great experiences and through this landmark partnership we aim to extend those benefits. 

“We recognise there are challenges around both accessibility and the support available and this is why we are joining forces with Alzheimer’s Society.” Its chief Jeremy Hughes said: “Alzheimer’s Society is delighted to be uniting with one of the UK’s biggest heritage organisations. 

“The importance of such venues increases as we get older, as a place to relax, recover and engage through multi-sensory stimulation of the space around us.” 

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