I wish to wholeheartedly urge your readers to stand up and find out how to confront dementia during this year’s Dementia Awareness Week (May 15-21).
Dementia is known as the most feared health condition of our time. I know how disturbing dementia can be first hand because my own sister, Lena, developed the condition before she died six years ago in a care home at the age of 77 – so my heart goes out to everyone affected by it.
With some 850,000 people living with dementia across the UK, almost everybody will know someone who has been affected by dementia and they will be left in little doubt as to how wretched it is to live with this disease, or see someone you love affected by the condition.
Things are definitely getting better; slowly but surely, more people are talking about dementia, with myths and misconceptions being tackled and public understanding improving.
Alzheimer’s Society, who I am proud to support, say that “life doesn’t need to end when dementia begins” – but that can only be the case when we all start to confront dementia rather than let it dominate our lives.
For starters, it is important anyone worried about dementia knows they can do something about it by contacting their GP, another health professional, or a charity, sooner rather than later to ensure they receive the right treatment and advice.
Furthermore, people across our communities need to understand enough about dementia to enable those who live with the condition to live well in familiar surroundings for as long as possible.
The Holy Grail is, of course, a cure for dementia – but with that still out of sight it underlines the need for us to confront dementia while scientists strive for an all-important breakthrough and create an environment where people with dementia and their loved ones can flourish.
Dementia can be a frightening thing – but it doesn’t always need to be. I would ask anyone worried about it to contact the Alzheimer’s Society National Dementia Helpline on 0300 222 1122 or visit alzheimers.org.uk/DAW
Gloria Hunniford, By email