Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is urging Derbyshire residents to not bottle up their worries about dementia and memory loss this Dementia Awareness Week, which runs from 18 - 24 May 2014.
The Trust, which offers a unique level of support to dementia patients, is supporting a national campaign hosted by the Alzheimer’s Society to get local people speaking about dementia, a condition which can often be difficult to talk about due to confusion and shame. With the prevalence of dementia set to treble over the next 30 to 40 years due to the aging population, Derbyshire Healthcare would like people to understand the condition more and learn ways to deal with it.
‘Don’t bottle it up’ is the theme for this year’s Dementia Awareness Week highlighting that talking about worries and problems with close relatives or friends can be a helpful way of gaining the courage to speak to health professionals about your memory conditions. It is possible to live well in the community everyday with dementia if the illness is identified early and coping methods are put in place to support the individual.
What is dementia?
Dr Ed Komocki, Consultant Psychiatrist, of Derbyshire Healthcare says: “Dementia is a progressive condition which describes a set of symptoms that includes memory loss and difficulties with thinking, activities of daily living and communication. The most common forms of dementia are Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia and Lewy Body disease although the symptoms can also accompany other neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease.
“One of the first signs of dementia is forgetfulness and sufferers often notice that their short-term memory is particularly affected. They may also find it difficult to communicate with others and struggle to think of the right words during conversations. Completing practical tasks such as getting dressed and making a cup of tea may become more difficult and perplexing. When the illness progresses, people may find the process of making choices increasingly problematic and experience difficulties recognising faces or places leading to feelings of disorientation and distress."
How common is dementia?
Says Dr Ed Komocki, “Research tells us dementia is potentially one of the biggest health crises facing the country in the future, with an estimated 665,000 people in this country already living with the condition. We know that the risk of dementia increases with age and as everyone in the future is likely to be living longer; the numbers of those suffering with this disease will greatly increase. Consequently we have to be sure that the necessary services and resources available to those with dementia are fit for purpose and ready to address this need. It is important that those with dementia, their family and carers know where to come for practical help and support in the early stages of the condition so we can perform the appropriate assessments and help them to live as normal a life for as long as possible.
“The former Chief Executive of the NHS, Sir David Nicholson, recently praised our Trust for the commitment we show to putting our patients at the centre of their care following a visit to two dementia wards on the Kingsway site in Derby. During his visit Sir David met with patients, carers and clinicians to discuss measures that have been put in place to ensure a high quality of care and a positive culture of care is evident on the wards. He was also able to witness key innovations in dementia care, such as memory boxes, which enable people to bring items that hold precious connections and memories on to the ward.”
Getting involved and finding out more
As part of the week, Derbyshire Healthcare is also encouraging people to become Dementia Friends, which involves people taking action in the community to support people with dementia and those who look after them. If you would like to become a Dementia Friend or to find out more information please visit: www.dementiafriends.org.uk
If you think you may be experiencing early signs of dementia please speak to your GP for further advice and support. If you prefer, you can also contact local support groups such as the Alzheimer’s Society on 01332 208845 (Derby city and south county) or 01246 223366 (Derbyshire north county) and Making Space on 01332 623700 ext 33386.