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​Life doesn’t end when dementia begins


Dementia affects over 850,000 people in the UK and that number is steadily increasing. Around 23 million of the UK population has a close friend or family member with dementia.

GPs in Southwark are asking residents to help increase dementia awareness by spreading the word that life doesn’t end when dementia begins.

The message is one being delivered nationwide during dementia awareness week, an initiative organised by the Alzheimer’s Society. This year people are being encouraged to ‘do something new’ to highlight that having dementia doesn’t mean you have to stop doing the things you love.

Dr Nancy Kuchemann, local GP and clinical lead for mental health at NHS Southwark Clinical Commissioning Group, said:

“There is currently no cure for dementia and it can happen to anyone. However, it is important to recognise that having dementia doesn’t mean that you have to stop trying out new things.

“While dementia can make it harder to do certain things, many people with dementia have active, healthy lives and continue their hobbies even as the condition progresses.

“With the right knowledge and support it is possible for someone with dementia to get the very best out of life.”

Dementia awareness week runs until 23 May and the Alzheimer’s Society has put together a few ideas of different things people can try to do something new:
  • Try out a new recipe – be ambitious and try something different to your usual cooking style
  • Sign up for a language class - many places offer classes to help you learn a range of languages, or you can often find free online courses
  • Find a new sport or exercise to try out for the first time - look for a class you haven't done at the gym before, or get your friends out to play a group game in the park
  • Make plans for that big trip you've always wanted to go on - you might not be quite ready to go yet, but choose a date and get things moving
  • Get a new hairstyle (or colour) - many salons offer free or cut price cuts to help with training
  • Visit somewhere you've never been before – either close to home or further afield 
Southwark residents are encouraged to share what they’re doing on social media using the hashtags #DoSomethingNew and #DAW2015.

The word dementia describes a set of symptoms that may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language.

Dementia is caused when the brain is damaged by certain conditions, such as Alzheimer's disease or a series of strokes. Dementia is progressive, which means the symptoms will gradually get worse. However, diagnosis rates in Southwark are improving, with over two thirds of local people thought to have dementia now known to local NHS services. This means they can get the care and support they need to continue living their lives as normally as possible.

For details about the symptoms of dementia visit www.nhs.uk 

If you have any concerns or are worried about your memory, please speak to your GP.

For more information about dementia awareness week 2015 visit www.alzheimers.org.uk