Working together to create a dementia-friendly society

With Dementia Action Week (21-27 May 2018) approaching, NHS Herefordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are backing a campaign to improve the lives of people with the condition.

Dementia has a number of symptoms, which are a result of damage to the brain.  In the UK, one person develops dementia every three minutes. People with the condition can expect a variety of symptoms including memory loss, difficulty finding the correct words, changes in personality and depression.

There is currently no cure for dementia but there are several drugs and therapies that can help to lessen the impact of the symptoms. Talking therapies including counselling, psychotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) encourage people to talk about their feelings.

Dr Simon Lennane, Mental Health Lead for Herefordshire CCG said: “This awareness week is an ideal opportunity to think about what we can do as a community to help people living with dementia. The NHS in Herefordshire has an ambitious target to make our county the best place in the UK to live with dementia, and to achieve this, we will need your help.

“There was a stigma around cancer in the past, but people are now much more open about discussing ‘the Big C’, and we need to do the same thing with dementia – ‘the Big D’.”

There are a lot of events taking place in Herefordshire during Dementia Action Week:

  • The best way to get involved and understand more is to attend a Dementia Friends training session, which takes less than an hour but gives a very good insight into the condition. Free Dementia Friends training sessions are running locally throughout the awareness week and are available for members of the community, and as refresher training for people working in health and social care.
  • The Community Memory Service will be hosting special clinics in Ross and the Golden Valley for anyone concerned about their own memory or that of a relative. The clinics are aimed at people who do not already have a dementia diagnosis, as picking up the condition early allows more treatment options, and lets people plan for the future. There are more common causes for poor memory – such as low mood, which responds well to treatment – which is another reason to seek help.
  • Research shows that creative activities and exercise can be very helpful for people with dementia. The excellent meeting centres at Ross and Leominster allow patients and carers to spend quality time together in a supportive environment.
  • The Good Neighbour schemes being developed in parishes across Herefordshire help people to manage in their own homes.

Dr Lennane added: “Although dementia is usually thought of as a problem with memory, other aspects of brain function can be affected, causing problems such as feeling muddled, or difficulties with speech or understanding. The good news is that not smoking, and better control of blood pressure and cholesterol, should reduce the numbers of people diagnosed with vascular dementia in the future.”

The Alzheimer's Society website has information about how to make your business more accessible for dementia patients. Support and advice is available from NHS Choices or you can call the National Dementia Helpline (0300 222 11 22) for one-to-one support.