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The Challenge of Dementia No 1

This is the first of a series of articles from Graham Thompson, President of Kibworth and Fleckney Rotary Club, focusing on the key charity of his presidency.

Cancer sufferers over recent years can often be more open and less scared of diagnosis. Quite rightly, there is a good support network now in place.

The Paralympics and Invictus Games have reminded the able-bodied that those less able can achieve huge goals in life, in both sport and beyond. Mental health is also beginning to be addressed more openly and sympathetically. “It’s OK to say you’re NOT OK’’ has struck a chord.

But how often is dementia talked about and discussed openly? Currently there are approximately 850,000 people diagnosed with the condition in the UK. By 2020, the figure is likely to top one million. It is estimated that one in three children born today will ultimately suffer some form of dementia. (Alzheimers Research UK 2015)

With no cure as yet, I feel we really do need to address this huge challenge as positively as possible.

We have come a long way from locking up those with dementia in an asylum, but too many are trapped and isolated by their condition and there is still an unwarranted stigma attached.

Families, friends and neighbours will often step up to the challenge of keeping sufferers at home and in familiar surroundings for as long as possible. However, taking on a caring role can also lead to carers feeling isolated and excluded from normal life.

Armed with a bit more knowledge we might all make a difference to someone’s life by sparing some time to call in on a relative, friend or neighbour and helping them to feel less isolated.

Over the next few months, future articles will deal with diagnosis, the practical and financial issues around dementia, the help available (which can often depend on a postcode lottery), the very essential support for carers who can buckle under the strain, and support groups, both national and local.

I am not an expert, nor have I had first hand experience as a carer, but I have been touched by other people’s stories. Those stories made me decide a year or so ago to start a journey of discovery into the real impact that this cruel disease can have, and to look at the support that is currently available. We owe it to our family, friends and community to learn more, so that we have the tools to make a difference.

I would love to have feedback from Chronicle readers, who I know to be caring and responsive. If you have a contribution to make to increasing awareness of the problems surrounding dementia, please do get in touch on grahamapt@btinternet.com.

Next month: Admiral Nurses and Dementia support: - who are they? How are they funded? What impact can they have?

Click here to read more articles in the series 'The Challenge of Dementia' by Graham Thompson

Graham Thompson
Kibworth & Fleckney Rotary Club
Issue 404
September 2018

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