Agawam named a Dementia Friendly Community

Increase in dementia cases expected over next 10 years

dementia simulator
Participants take part in a "virtual dementia tour" at Heritage Hall in Agawam. The special glasses and earmuffs they are wearing are designed to compress your ability to see, think, and hear.

AGAWAM, Mass. (WWLP) – Agawam is now one of only three communities in Massachusetts that have been designated as “Dementia Friendly.” Communities with this distinction have resources to make things easier for people with dementia, including emergency personnel who are trained in understanding their needs.

At Heritage Hall in Agawam, they are welcoming people to try a dementia simulator. It involves putting on special glasses and earmuffs, which compress your ability to see, think, and hear.

Heritage Hall’s Lindsay Bellamy told 22News her “virtual dementia tour” allows her to better understand her patients. She provided an example of one way she can help.

“Not doing hand gestures in front of them so quickly, because they get startled very easily, so that you’re coming in from the side so it could scare them,” Bellamy said.

5.3 million men and women suffer from some type of dementia; a number that’s expected to double in ten years. Many expected to be cared for by their children.

“If they’re given the right support, they need the right resources and the right knowledge to take care of that person,” Heritage Hall dementia program director Melinda Monascerski said.

Agawam Mayor Richard Cohen said he wished he had greater knowledge when he cared for his late father during his struggle with dementia.

“I mean even the process of taking your medication: ‘Don’t forget to take your medication,’ ‘I took it!” – no he didn’t,” Cohen said.

Cohen’s urging family caregivers to gain important knowledge they’ll need by taking a 15-minute  Virtual Dementia tour.

If you are interested in taking a virtual dementia tour, call Melinda Monasterski at (413) 333-2428, or e-mail her at melinda.monasterski@genesishcc.com.

Westfield and Quincy are the two other communities in Massachusetts designated as “Dementia Friendly.”

Click here to learn more about Dementia Friendly Communities.

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