We are all living longer, increasing the chances of our lives being affected by dementia.

Whether it is you, a family member or a friend the likelihood is that someone close to you will develop dementia in their life-time. That is why NHS Fylde and Wyre Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are supporting Dementia Awareness Week 2014 (18-24 May) and encouraging local residents to have conversations about dementia.

Dementia describes different brain disorders that trigger a loss of brain function. Dementia is not a natural part of ageing; it is caused by different diseases of the brain, Alzheimer’s disease being the most common. Other types of dementia include vascular dementia and mixed dementia. These conditions are all usually progressive and eventually severe. Symptoms can include memory loss, difficulties with thinking, reasoning or language, and sometimes changes in mood or behaviour, but dementia affects everyone differently.

Some things to look out for are:

  • Struggling to remember recent events or people’s names
  • Finding it hard to follow conversations or TV programmes
  • Repeating yourself or losing the thread of what you’re saying
  • Difficulty concentrating, thinking things through or following instructions
  • Feeling confused even when in a well-known place
  • Becoming unusually anxious, depressed or agitated.

One in three people over age 65 will develop dementia but younger people (under 65) can develop it too.

Data from the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) 2012/13 dementia register, correct as of June 2013, shows that within the Fylde and Wyre area 1,251 have a dementia diagnosis. These figures are higher than the national average but are still well under what would be expected for the local population. The numbers are likely to increase as the population gets older.

If you’ve noticed that you’re unusually forgetful or confused or someone else has – talk to your GP sooner rather than later. Tell your doctor what problems you have been having and how often they occur. If you think somebody close to you may have dementia it is important to talk to them about your concerns and encourage that they to speak to their GP.

It is possible to live well with dementia, a wealth of support and advice is available to help individuals and loved ones after diagnosis.

Dr Kath Greenwood, a GP and clinical lead for mental health and dementia at NHS Fylde and Wyre CCG, said: “The most common signs of the early stages of dementia are memory loss and the loss of practical abilities, which can lead to withdrawal from work and social activities.

“If you notice any of these problems or somebody close to you has noticed it then you should speak to your GP. Equally if you have noticed any of these signs in a loved one you should encourage them to talk with their own GP. Early diagnosis and the correct support is essential to enable patients and their carers to live well with dementia.”

“We have identified mental health and dementia as one of our priority areas in our recently published 2030 Vision. We want Fylde and Wyre to become a ‘dementia friendly community’ where people actively encourage those living with dementia to participate in community life.”

A number of events are taking place across the Fylde coast during the course of the week and information stands will be located in local supermarkets, libraries and churches.

A Dementia Friends session will be held at St Annes Library, 254 Clifton Drive South,FY8 1NR, on Friday 23 May from 2pm – 3pm.

Dementia Friends sessions provide an excellent opportunity to learn more about dementia and how you can help to create dementia friendly communities. If you would like to attend either of these sessions please visit www.dementiafriends.org.uk to book your place or view other future sessions near you.

Blackpool Victoria Hospital is marking the week by opening its new dementia corridor on Friday 23 May.

The hospital’s newest addition has changed the physical environment of a stretch of corridor transforming it into a series of memory triggering scenes. Spanning 72 metres and costing £30,000, the corridor is the largest in the UK and aims to have a massive impact on the care provided to patients who suffer from Dementia or confusion.

The corridor is split in to seven sections with each section featuring a printed, enhanced photographic representation completely covering the walls. The experience is added to in each section with smells that are pumped into the corridor and sounds that fit the scene. The aim is to transport the minds of the patients into each of the environments in order to trigger memories and help them to feel more relaxed.

You can visit www.bfwh.nhs.uk/departments/dementia for more advice about demen­tia and information about local com­mu­nity ini­tia­tives.

ENDS

For further information please contact the media team at NHS Lancashire and Staffordshire CSU on 01772 214213.