Below is a copy of Damian's latest monthly column in the Petersfield Post, which focuses on the challenges of dementia.
Dementia Awareness Week has just ended and one of the most surprising facts I picked up was that a third of people with dementia in England never receive a diagnosis. Why is that?
Firstly, there is a great deal of fear and stigma associated with dementia. Receiving a diagnosis can be devastating news for individuals and their families, particularly when it’s often very uncertain what that might mean for their future wellbeing and independence.
Secondly, there are many different types of dementia and the impact that these may have on individuals can and will, vary enormously. Despite some recognised commonalities, the experience of living with dementia will be as individual as the person living with it.
Thirdly, knowing where to turn for help can be confusing. Should you bother your GP? Would a local charity or support group be the best place to go? What will your family and friends think?
The truth is, confronting dementia is one of the most pressing challenges we face as a society today. The human impact is enormous and so are the numbers; 850,000 people in the UK are estimated to have a form of dementia and it costs the UK economy over £26 Billion each and every year.
But the good news is there is already a great deal being done by leading charities to fund support services and research, and recent investment by the Government to establish the UK's first national Dementia Research Institute will bring together research efforts across the country with the aim to consolidate and accelerate the progress.
But there is so much more we can do, both as individuals and as groups. By understanding dementia better we can make small changes in our attitudes and behaviours that will in turn make dementia less frightening and stigmatised for those affected.
Becoming a Dementia Friend is one of the easiest ways to do this and one of the most rewarding. You can sign up either by attending a free, local one hour information session or by watching an information video online. But the ambition needn’t stop there.
Imagine a town where people living with dementia feel understood and comfortable, a place where more businesses and services understand how to help those affected by dementia, and a group of organisations working together to help make the town truly dementia friendly.
Imagine that town being Petersfield.
A new initiative - Dementia Friendly Petersfield – is about to become a reality and with the fantastic support of local organisations and businesses has the potential to make a real difference for hundreds of people in our community, each touched by dementia in one way or another.
You’re about to hear much more about it, but if you would like a sneak preview, take a look at the Dementia Friendly Petersfield website. You might even decide to join. Go to www.dementia-friendly-petersfield.org.uk to gind out more information.
To find out more about Dementia Friends and local information sessions: www.dementiafriends.co,uk
Article written by Damian Hinds and published in the Petersfield Post on 25th May 2016