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Dementia Awareness Week

Elderly hands

12:02am 21st May 2012

The number of dementia cases is expected to double in the next thirty years and clinicians at NHS Yorkshire and the Humber are making people aware of the signs and symptoms of the syndrome.

This week (20th-26th May 2012) is Dementia Awareness Week.

The main aim of the week is to educate people about the signs and symptoms of Dementia so they may be able to identify them in older relatives and friends enabling them to get appropriate care should they need it.

Signs and Symptoms of Dementia:

  • increasing difficulties with tasks and activities that require concentration and planning
  • memory loss
  • depression
  • changes in personality and mood
  • periods of mental confusion
  • low attention span.

Adult services care manager for NHS Yorkshire and Humber, Heather Raistrick, said:

"Because people are living longer cases of dementia are rising, it can happen to anyone.

"It is important to be aware of Dementia, even if you are not in an at risk group. Knowing the symptoms will enable you to get the right help and medication for either yourself or your elderly relatives. Taking action early can help to slow the development of the syndrome, giving the person a better quality of life for longer."   

There are many types of dementia:

  • Alzheimer's disease, where small clumps of protein, known as plaques, begin to develop around brain cells. This disrupts the normal workings of the brain.
  • Vascular dementia, where problems with blood circulation result in parts of the brain not receiving enough blood and oxygen.
  • Dementia with Lewy bodies, where abnormal structures, known as Lewy bodies, develop inside the brain.
  • Frontotemporal dementia, where the frontal and temporal lobes (two parts of the brain) begin to shrink. Unlike other types of dementia, frontotemporal dementia usually develops in people who are under 65. It is much rarer than other types of dementia.

Maintaining a healthy body can reduce the risk of developing dementia. Keeping your blood pressure at a normal level by maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking or drinking to excess, avoiding fatty foods and eating a diet which is high in fibre is advised.

There is some evidence that rates of dementia are lower in people who remain as mentally and physically active as possible throughout their lives. For example being involved in creative pastimes such as reading, writing, playing a musical instrument or learning a foreign language can all help to stimulate the mind and can contribute to reducing the risk of dementia.

Further survey for Dementia Awareness Week

Dementia worries over half of people living in Yorkshire and the Humber according to a joint poll commissioned by Alzheimer's Society and Saga Homecare published today (Monday 21st May 2012).

The YouGov survey - released to mark Dementia Awareness Week - found that 60% per cent of people in the area say they are worried about dementia in some way.

The majority of people (57%) are worried about either themselves or someone they know developing dementia in later life. Yet despite their fears less than a sixth (13%) of people want to know more about the condition.

Nicki Dyson, Alzheimer's Society Area Manager for Yorkshire and the Humber, said:

"Dementia can have a huge impact on the lives those affected and there is currently no cure, so it's not surprising that people are so worried. However, a lot of anxiety comes from a lack of knowledge about the help and treatments that are available to support people to live well for longer.

"This Dementia Awareness Week we need to stop worrying and start understanding dementia. Whether you have five minutes or half an hour, please take some time to find out more about the condition. Only through knowing more will we ensure that people with the condition are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve."

Alzheimer's Society's 'Dementia Awareness Week is being held in partnership with Saga Homecare. Saga Homecare, which is part of the larger Saga group, provides care at home for people who want to maintain their independence and stay in their own homes.

John Ivers, Chief Executive of Saga Homecare said:

"We are delighted to be partnering with Alzheimer's Society in raising awareness of dementia. Saga Homecare has extensive experience of providing ongoing support to people with this condition and we are harnessing our resources to help Alzheimer's Society make an impact with this worthwhile campaign.'  

This Dementia Awareness Week™ Alzheimer's Society is encouraging people to 'remember the person' by looking beyond someone's diagnosis and engaging with them. The charity is helping people to learn more about dementia by promoting five things everyone should know - key lessons include dementia is not a natural part of ageing and it's possible to live well with dementia.

Events will be taking place across the area throughout Dementia Awareness Week™. To find out how you can get involved, visit: www.alzheimers.org.uk/remembertheperson.

Other key findings

  • 30 per cent of people said they are not worried about dementia at all
  • 22 per cent of people believe dementia is a result of old age
  • 18 per cent of people believe there is nothing you can do to reduce your risk
  • Only 21 per cent of people realise dementia is a terminal illness
  • 19 per cent of people think they have a good knowledge of dementia
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