A new project has been launched to investigate how farmers, their families and carers cope when they are affected by dementia.
With an anticipated 156 per cent increase in dementia cases between now and 2051, statistics show the burden will fall on rural areas where proportions of elderly people are significantly higher.
This burden will impact farming businesses, communities and the rural economy, yet little is known about how this impact will manifest itself and what kind of specialist care networks will need to be in place to tackle it.
Funded by Seale Hayne Educational Trust, ’Farming, Dementia and Networks of Care’ will be guided by a steering group, including Joanne Jones from the Farming Community Network (FCN) and chaired by Ian Sherriff, academic partnership lead for dementia at Plymouth University peninsula schools of medicine and dentistry.
The project, which will begin as a pilot in Devon, will cover three main objectives – to consider the impact of dementia on farming businesses; to evaluate how dementia affects farming families and communities, and to consider how voluntary and state agencies can support farming families with dementia.
Ian Sherriff said: "There is widespread recognition at the highest level of government about the present and potential future impacts of dementia.
"The search for ways to enhance the quality of life for those affected is a constant and complex one.
"This innovative research will provide a body of knowledge that has the potential to open up new ways that the farming community can understand and support people with dementia and their carers, in rural communities.”