We’re all living longer. This is great news for most of us but for some people it means facing a higher risk of one day developing dementia. But what can you do about it? How do you recognise the signs? And how will you cope if you or someone you love develops dementia? One thing is for certain, the more we know, the more prepared we’ll be to face it.
This week is Dementia Awareness Week and the theme for this year is ‘talking’. To mark the occasion, we’ll be joining the Dementia Peer Support Group on a day trip to the museum, speaking to the Leeds Alzheimer’s Society to find out what they’re doing to raise awareness about dementia whilst also signposting the groups and organisations that can provide dementia support in Leeds.
Being diagnosed with dementia can be an overwhelming time. We spoke to Bob to find out how attending a support group and sharing experiences with other people helped him to turn his life around. Click here to read his story.
Understanding the facts
Dementia is not a natural part of ageing. It’s a progressive condition that affects how the brain works. The risk of developing the condition increases with age and it is becoming increasingly prevalent as we live for longer and as the balance of the population shifts more towards older people.
There is not one single cause, although there are certain factors that could increase the risk of developing dementia with age being the most significant factor. Dementia is found in just over 1% of people aged 65-69 and this increases to 32% of people aged 95 and over. Life choices play an important role too because high blood pressure and heart disease can increase the risk of a type of dementia known as ‘vascular’ dementia.
The most common signs and symptoms of dementia include memory loss, personality changes, mood swings and physical deterioration.
Everyone can reduce the risk by giving up smoking, reducing alcohol consumption, and having a healthy and balanced diet that enables you to maintain a normal body weight.
Good health and social care is very important and can include the provision of memory services; specialist services to support people with dementia in hospital and to return home from hospital; peer support; carer support; dementia cafés and activities offered by voluntary and community groups. Policies which promote personalisation offer opportunities for care and support to better suit the person and respond to individual needs.
Everyday life is just as important. People with dementia and their carers are at risk of becoming isolated, losing confidence and feeling less able to go out and do all the things we may otherwise take for granted. This can lead to loss of independence and it’s one of the reasons why Leeds is among several cities in the UK pioneering important developments in dementia through its vision to become a ‘dementia-friendly city’– so people experience understanding, positive attitudes and a welcoming approach.
Did you know?
- There are approximately 8,500 people living with dementia in Leeds in 2013
- Around 5,700 people are living at home whilst 2,800 are living in care homes
- Around 200 people with dementia in Leeds are aged 64 and under
- The majority of people living with dementia are aged 85 and over and are likely to have other long-term conditions, sensory impairments or need to have support with daily living
- It is estimated nationally, that older people with dementia use 25% of all hospital bed capacity.
For more information, look out for our local dementia strategy called ‘Living Well with Dementia in Leeds’ which will be discussed at the Leeds Health and Wellbeing Board on 22nd May. It will then be published with an action plan for improving services in Leeds.