By Sarah McMullan
Not all dementia sufferers are able to access a blue parking badge which is vital to their needs, says Alzheimer Scotland.
People with dementia have struggled to acquire blue badges in the past unless the person also has a physical disability.
For many living with dementia or Alzheimer’s driving is no longer feasible.
But access to a car through a carer can maintain mental capabilities for longer, according to Alzheimer Scotland.
Alzheimer Scotland enforced a pilot scheme alongside Transport Scotland in April last year to extend the blue badge service to people with a cognitive impairment.
Elaine Harley, who initiated the change on behalf of the charity, said: “At the moment, applicants need to be in receipt of a qualifying benefit such as Attendance Allowance or Personal Independence Payment in order to receive a badge.
“This means that not everyone who is a danger to themselves, or others, particularly when in traffic, has care needs which allow them to claim a benefit.”
Despite the new model’s success stories, Alzheimer Scotland says the guidelines still fall short for many who are in need.
The pilot scheme is managed at local level by each local authority across Scotland and has been extended until September this year.
Wales is the only country in the UK that fully recognises dementia as a medical reason for granting a blue parking badge.
Charities across the UK are campaigning to change that, arguing that without this service people are at risk of loneliness and their condition will worsen.
Mrs Harley added: “Many carers of people with dementia are older and may themselves have some mobility issues.
“The badge gives people peace of mind when they are taking someone with dementia out, they can park near shops or their home and not have the added worry of leaving a cognitively impaired person on their own near traffic where they might get confused and be at risk.”
Alzheimer Scotland is hopeful that Transport Scotland will recommend that the scheme be made permanent for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
For access to Alzheimer Scotland services, click here: http://www.alzscot.org/information_and_resources