A special event taking place in Bangor tomorrow will give people with dementia the chance to tell their personal stories of what it’s like to live with the condition.
The ‘Real Lives: Learning from Those Who Live with Dementia’ event at the town’s Aurora complex (12pm - 2pm) has been organised by Dementia NI, in conjunction with Ards and North Down Borough Council.
More than 14,000 people are on the dementia register in Northern Ireland – a 45% increase in the last decade.
It is believed that many others are not on the register and actually 20,000 people could be living with dementia in Northern Ireland.
According to the latest statistics, the Ards and North Down borough has the highest prevalence of dementia in Northern Ireland, followed by Fermanagh and Omagh and Causeway Coast and Glens. The lowest rate among the 11 council areas was recorded in Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon.
It is hoped people attending tomorrow’s event will gain an insight into the signs, symptoms and challenges that a diagnosis of dementia brings.
With greater understanding of the condition, communities should become more accepting, tolerant of the symptoms and helpful towards people living with dementia.
Dementia NI member, Allison Batchelor, said: “My diagnosis completely floored me. I was scared, angry, worried, depressed but at the same time relieved to eventually know what was wrong. Dementia NI is an organisation that was set up by five individuals who had a dementia diagnosis because they felt people with dementia didn’t have a voice.
“Dementia NI gives people with dementia a voice and empowers them to talk at events such as the Real Lives event to challenge the stigma of dementia. People who are diagnosed can still live fulfilling lives, do normal things and join in the same activities as everyone else. Sometimes we may need additional help, but most of all we just need a little more compassion and understanding.”
Ards and North Down’s Community Planning Partnership is using its ‘Big Plan’ to improve the delivery of public services for people with dementia and give users of those services a voice with regard to how, where, why and for whom they are delivered.
Patricia Mackey, community planning manager, said: “Community planning partners have a responsibility to look at ways of ensuring people living with dementia are cared for and have the opportunity to live their lives to the full while still being able to make a contribution to their communities.
“This conference will allow us to hear first-hand about what type of support is needed and how service provision can be improved to ensure Ards and North Down is an age friendly borough.”