Watford's mayor has spoken of how his own experience with a relative's dementia shaped his goal to make the town dementia friendly.

The town will be holding its first ever dementia week this week, in which Watford Borough Council is working with Home Instead Senior Care, intu and Watford FC during the Alzheimer’s Society’s official Dementia Action Week.

Elected Mayor Peter Taylor wants to make the town a friendlier place for people with dementia - right down to how people are treated in shops and restaurants.

Mr Taylor’s vision stemmed from his own personal experiences with his grandfather, who suffered from dementia and died 15 years ago.

Mr Taylor said: “My own grandad suffered from dementia near the end of his life and it was very difficult to see him struggling with memory loss or trying to explain himself.

“From my own personal experiences, it is possible to live a happy life with dementia. Some people get down about the disease and feel like it’s the end but with the right care and support they can live really happy days.”

His idea was encouraged further when he met families after knocking from door to door to discover that one of the members was living with dementia.

Mr Taylor added: “I know from knocking on doors and meeting people that if your husband or wife is living with dementia it can be really difficult and they can feel quite isolated.

“There are hundreds of local people who are living with dementia and I am working with many different organisations so that we have a better understanding of how we can support people who are living with dementia and their carers too.”

Mr Taylor is hoping to introduce more training for businesses, so they are part of the Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends programme, which seeks to change people’s perceptions of dementia and transform the way people think, act and talk about the condition.

The training offers advice to businesses such as the layout of their business and how to handle customers with dementia.

Pupils at Queens School, in Aldenham Road, Bushey, have already received the training.

Mr Taylor said: “At the heart of it its about being kind. If you see someone who is ordering a drink and they forget where they are hopefully the staff will know how to respond to them.”

There will also be activities and events in Watford throughout the week.

• An exhibition at the intu shopping centre will feature exercise sessions and health checks for people living with dementia and trishaw rides.

• On Tuesday there will be a celebration of carers, with a lunch at Watford Football Club.

• On Wednesday, Herts Musical Memories will stage a singing session for people with dementia and their carers at the newly refurbished St Mary’s Church in High Street.

• Alexis and Peter Neighbour, who run Home Instead Senior Care, will run a Dementia Friends training session on Thursday at Watford Library with sessions at 10am, 11.15am and 2.30pm.

• The week will finish with a ‘Pampering Day’ on Friday at intu shopping centre with a range of hairdressers, barbers and beauty salons providing free pampering sessions for people with dementia and their carers.

Director of Home Instead Alexis Neighbour said: “This is something close to our hearts at Home Instead as we look after many older people at home who have dementia and it can be simple things that improve their quality of their life.

“It may be about understanding how certain objects appear to them, as patterns can cause confusion, or it may be helping them to recall childhood memories through music or a nostalgic food.

“We all can do something to show we care about dementia and can help people with it.”

She added: “This week means everything to me as I am passionate about understanding what it is like to live with dementia as people feel isolated as they feel people in the community don’t understand.

“If we can create a dementia friendly Watford, we can create a caring environment and if we can raise awareness then these people will feel like they can take part in the community.”

For more information and to book tickets go to www.dementiafriendlywatford.com.