This article was written by Damian and published in this week's editions of the Herald and Petersfield Post:
"This week is Dementia Action Week, and another opportunity to raise awareness about the disease, but also the help and support that is available, both nationally and locally.
The theme for this year is all about getting a timely diagnosis; helping people distinguish between symptoms that come with getting old as opposed to getting ill with dementia.
New research by the Alzheimer’s Society found that one in four people with dementia wait at least two years before getting a formal diagnosis, so potentially missing out on treatment to manage symptoms but also a delay in accessing the right support.
Understanding the signs of dementia as opposed to the signs of getting old is key. Accepting that changes in behaviour or memory lapses may be more that old age is understandably difficult, but it can often be a relief to have a formal diagnosis.
Knowing there is help and where to find it is also crucial, and that is why the launch of the new Dementia Directory for East Hampshire is so welcome.
Created by Dementia Friendly Petersfield, in conjunction with East Hampshire District Council, the directory is designed to guide people through the first steps after a diagnosis.
With advice on how to live well with dementia and where to find the full range of local support services, it is a fantastic guide for anyone concerned about how to move forward, after what can be a traumatic period.
From seeking help from the Carer Support and Dementia Advice Service at Andover Mind, who will appoint a dementia advisor, to setting up an emergency care through The Princess Royal Trust for Carers (PRTC), the advice will ease the path to ensure individuals and their carers do not become isolated.
Launched at the recent Dementia Festival in Petersfield, the directory is another example of how local charities and community groups make such a difference within our local communities.
It was brilliant to see so many of them represented at the festival, including Dementia-friendly Alton, and I was delighted to have the opportunity to run a Dementia Friends Information Session as part of the one-day event.
It had been some time since I was last able to run this type of face-to-face session, so I don’t mind admitting to being a bit nervous, but it was a pleasure to once again share some of the learnings from the Dementia Friends programme and to encourage people to sign up.
It has been an honour to be a Dementia Friends Champion for the past few years, knowing just how valuable it is to raise awareness about the disease and the (often simple) actions people can take to help those living with dementia.
I would strongly encourage everyone to visit the Dementia Friends website and look for an information session near to them – learning more about the disease could help those close to you, but it could also help to understand the behaviours and needs of others in the wider community.
It is estimated that more than 22,000 people across Hampshire are living with dementia, and as the population ages, so the number of people who will be affected by dementia increases.
A standalone dementia strategy is due to be published by the Government this year, and of course investment in research is on-going.
There is no cure, but it has been proven that socialising can bring great benefits to people living with dementia and their families.
We’re fortunate in East Hampshire to have so much support - from drop in cafes and music sessions, to choirs and friendship groups – all of which is listed in the directory, which can be found via this LINK"