Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service has signed up to a national pledge on dementia to help people live safely and independently for as long as possible.

Dementia is a condition that puts people at greater risk of having a domestic fire and then less likely to escape, and the figures show that we’re all likely to be touched by it at some point in our lives. Currently about 800,000 people in the UK have dementia.

The condition causes changes in mood, judgement, personality, and makes it difficult to communicate or cope with day to day tasks.

It can affect people at any age, but is most common in older people. One in 14 people over the age of 65 have dementia and one in six people over 80, of which there are an increasing number as life-expectancy rises.

Merseyside has joined fire and rescue services around the UK in a national project to look at how society takes care of dementia sufferers.

Fire and rescue services recognise that the symptoms and nature of the condition inevitably put sufferers at greater risk.

Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MF&RS) Chief Fire Officer Dan Stephens said it is essential that Service staff understand the condition and how it could present itself in their daily work.

He said: “Whether we’re at a community event, a house fire or on a home safety visit, there is a high likelihood that at some point we will be dealing with someone who is suffering with dementia. In some cases it may not have a substantial bearing on our actions, but in understanding the illness we can make better decisions.

“An example might be if we are rescuing someone during a fire. We would generally expect a member of the public to cooperate with us and let us do our job, but that might not be the case for someone who has dementia. They may be very confused and not recognise that the strangers coming into their home are firefighters there to help them. They may not understand where the smoke is coming from and they could even violently resist the rescue because of their panic.

“Dementia isn’t the only condition that could cause these issues, but it’s on the increase. With this in mind it is important that our staff understand the challenges around dementia and are ready to support people with dementia, and their carers, to stay safe and remain independent for as long as possible.”

Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service has shown its support by joining other fire and rescue services around the UK to sign up to a pledge to help people with dementia live safely and independently.

The initiative is part of the Prime Minister’s challenge to help build dementia friendly communities that is being led by Alzheimer’s Society and Angela Rippon.

The TV presenter has backed the pledge by MF&RS to help keep people with dementia safe.

Angela Rippon OBE, Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador, said: “We are delighted that fire and rescue services such as Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service have agreed to be part of this important initiative.

“By signing this pledge Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service is taking a further step towards providing peace of mind for carers, improving the safety of people with dementia and helping them stay secure and independent in their own homes for as long as possible.”

Photograph above shows Angela Rippon, who has backed the MF&RS pledge to keep people with dementia safe.

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