Feature: Dementia: Stop bottling it up

Dementia: recognise the signs
Dementia: recognise the signs

Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Awareness Week, May 18-24, encourages society to bring dementia to the table, stop ‘bottling it up’, and begin to discuss dementia without fear or constraint.

Dementia - deemed a “national crisis” by the Prime Minister - as it is estimated one in three of over 65’s will develop the disease in later life and most families will be affected.

Dementia Awareness Week. Alison Bradbury, Chris Willis and Trudy Beever.

Dementia Awareness Week. Alison Bradbury, Chris Willis and Trudy Beever.

By 2021, the number of people living with the neurodegenerative disease which attacks the brain; resulting in memory loss, difficulties with thinking, problem-solving and speech, will reach the one million mark.

In 2008, 2,222 people were living with dementia in Calderdale.

By 2025, this figure is expected to almost double.

NHS Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is encouraging people to recognise the signs of dementia in order to get a diagnosis and begin to take control.

NHS Calderdale CCG’s Dr Peter Davies said: “Some of the first signs of Alzheimer’s disease include lapses in memory and problems with finding the right words. Other symptoms that may develop include, memory problems, for example, forgetting the way home from the shops, or being unable to remember names and places.

“There may be mood changes, particularly as the parts of the brain that control emotion become affected by disease. Communication problems include a decline in speech, reading and writing.”

In order to bring dementia to the lips of society in a topic we’re not scared to address, Halifax’s Alzheimer’s Society dementia support manager, Alison Bradbury, said an honest understanding is needed.

She said: “Dementia has replaced cancer as the health condition people fear most. It is therefore no surprise that many people feel confused or even ashamed to talk about it.

“We all bury our heads in the sand from time to time but it is important to seek help.”

Dementia Friends, a government campaign, is asking the nation to become a friend of someone living with dementia; in sad realisation of the fact that men and women diagnosed with dementia often lose friends through fear and ignorance of dementia.

Endorsed by celebrities on the national TV advert, the campaign aims to increase dementia awareness and change the way the nation, thinks, talks and acts around dementia.

Alzheimer’s Society’s chief executive, Jeremy Hughes, said: “Two thirds of people with dementia tell us they feel lonely and almost half report losing friends. With one in three people over 65 developing dementia it is vital we change this picture. Dementia is everyone’s problem and we all need to be part of the solution.”

Halifax Alzheimer’s Society is asking businesses and organisations to sign up to the National Dementia Declaration in the Dementia Action Alliance mission to create dementia-friendly communities through partnership.

Staff at Barclays Bank, Commercial Street, Halifax, from Monday-Thursday this week, gave out dementia support and information leaflets.

Lloyds Bank group managers from across Calderdale walked 11 miles this week to raise money and awareness for Alzheimer’s Society in a pledge of corporate responsibility to a huge social concern.

Halifax’s Alzheimer’s Society’s Alison Bradbury said: “We want to make our communities more welcoming and accessible for people living with dementia so running awareness sessions in places where people would normally carry out their day to day activities such as a bank seems ideal.”

The Government says it is committed to tackling dementia and has increased research funding to £66m in 2015, with the hope of finding a cure by 2025.

In a recent medical breakthrough, the cognitive benefits of the longevity gene Klotho were discovered in an experiment in which mice, injected with Klotho protein, performed significantly better in a variety of learning and memory tests. The new findings could help millions of dementia sufferers around the world in the quest to find a cure.

But, in the meantime, as husbands and wives and sons, daughters and parents are waking with dementia in their daily lives, an honest and frank public discussion about a subject our consciousness would rather forget will help to improve the lives of the men and women living with dementia.

To read articles on people living dementia click here and here.

Support Services for people living with dementia

Calderdale Alzheimer’s Society offer a range of innovative and supportive services from Singing for the Brain to Dementia Cafes, Living with Dementia Groups and more services. For further details contact Calderdale Alzheimer’s Society on 01422 352789.

Every Tuesday, at Hebden Bridge Town Hall, from 2.30pm-4pm, Verd de gris run uplifting and inspiring art sessions for people living with dementia. For more information contact Sharon on 07598 287 772.

The Calderdale Carers Project at Rimani House, Hall Street, Halifax, offers help and support on 01422 369101.

National dementia helpline 0300 222 11 22.

Online support visit discussion forum alzheimers.org.uk/talkingpoint, website alzheimers.org.uk, nhs.uk