Swindon residents are being encouraged to become Dementia Friends and to better understand the disease which people are more fearful of than cancer.
A host of Dementia Friends sessions are available for people to attend in the Borough as part of national Dementia Awareness Week, which runs from 15 – 21 May.
Library outreach officers will be giving people an opportunity to find out more at West Swindon Library on Tuesday 17 May at 5pm and at Highworth Library on Wednesday, 18 May at 11am and the Alzheimer’s Society will also be running two sessions in Swindon town centre’s Wharf Green on Thursday, 19 May at 12.15pm and 1.15pm.
There are an estimated 2,000 people aged 65 and above in Swindon living with a type of dementia and this figure is expected to increase as people live longer. Around 3,000 people in Swindon are already Dementia Friends and it is hoped this number will increase, as more people want to get clued up and help those affected.
As with cancer, everyone can reduce their risk of getting dementia by having a healthier lifestyle. However, fewer people realise that stopping smoking, being more active, having a better diet and taking part in more social activities can lower their chances of developing it.
Dementia is a disease of the brain, which affects the way people think, speak and do things. It affects people’s moods and motivations, particularly if the disease affects the part of the brain that controls emotions. Although there is no cure, there is medication and also lots of things people can do to reduce the impact and speed of its severity.
Dementia can affect a person’s relationships and their connection to the world they love, leaving them feeling isolated. Becoming a Dementia Friend can help keep people connected to their lives by knowing that other people understand about living with dementia and are willing to take time to create supportive and friendly communities.
Swindon residents can also find out more about dementia and ways of coping with the condition at their local library, via the The Reading Well Books on Prescription scheme. The 25 titles have been recommended by health experts and people with real experience of dementia.
Swindon Borough Council Leader Cllr David Renard said: “Sadly dementia, like cancer, will touch the lives of many of us. It’s an incredibly difficult illness to deal with because there are no obvious physical symptoms, yet its impact can be absolutely devastating. The more we’re all aware of and understand dementia, as individuals, businesses and the whole community, the greater support and empathy we can show to those affected as well as people close to them. I would therefore encourage as many people as possible to join in one of these sessions and become a Dementia Friend.”
For more information about the Alzheimer’s Society services in Swindon, call the National Dementia Helpline on 0300 222 1122 or email: email@example.com.