IN WEST Sussex one in five people in the county will have a form of dementia during their lifetime. More than 13,000 people are currently living with dementia in the county.
Dementia is not a specific disease and can be caused by a number of different conditions including Alzheimer’s disease. People with dementia can have a number of difficulties including problems with their short term memory.
‘Remember the Person’ is the theme of this year’s Dementia Awareness Week which runs from Sunday July 3 until Saturday 9.
The idea of ‘Remember the Person’ is to try to encourage people to be a friend to someone with dementia. It is also trying to take the fear out of dementia.
Two-thirds of people with dementia live at home. Often they are cared for by family members who also need help and support.
There is a lot that can be done by friends and neighbours. Just staying in touch and treating a person with respect and dignity can help. It is also important to be a good listener and communicator.
In West Sussex the pioneering HOPE group (a group of people living with dementia) has helped both professionals and the public gain a greater understanding of the needs of people with dementia and their carers. The group is funded by West Sussex County Council to help develop the learning and training of social care staff and students in the county.
David Moore, Training and Development Officer for Adults’ Services at West Sussex County Council, helps run the group.
He said: “HOPE gives people living with dementia the chance to give their views on the support they need to live well with dementia. The work we have undertaken so far has been invaluable in showing that you can live positively with dementia if the right support and understanding is available”.
Peter Catchpole, County Council Cabinet Member for Adults’ Services, said: “By working closely with people and their families who have direct experience of the disease we are developing a better understanding of their needs.”
Earlier this year two West Sussex men with differing forms of dementia shared their thoughts and feelings in a video produced by the County Council. They agreed to be interviewed, to shatter the myth that those with the disease are incapable of thinking for themselves.
To see the film, visit www.westsussex.gov.uk/video and click the People tab.
For more information on dementia, see the Social Care pages at www.westsussex.gov.uk. Information on local services can be found at www.icis-info4life.org.uk.