May 14-20 is dementia awareness week, something very close to my heart. I’ll be publishing two more blog posts during the week. If you read this post first, you’ll understand why raising awareness is so important to me.
Last month Malvern Hills District Council appealed for people to knit or crochet blue forget-me-not flowers, which will be used to decorate the streets of Malvern this Dementia Awareness Week. The flower is the symbol of the Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends campaign, which aims to transform the way the nation thinks, talks and acts about the condition. I’ll be blogging about this a bit later in the week.
Every three minutes, someone in the UK develops dementia. Globally, it’s every three seconds, which is approximately 9.9 million new cases every year. The symptoms gradually get worse over time and there is no cure. Dementia is set to be the 21st century’s biggest killer.
Dementia costs the economy more than cancer or heart disease yet awareness and understanding of this brain disease is worryingly low and, due to a lack of any significant funding, many families are facing it alone.
Dementia is not a natural part of ageing and it isn’t something that only happens to older people – over 40,000 people in the UK, under the age of 65, have dementia. Most importantly, it’s not just about memory loss, it’s much, much more complex than this.
Each person with the disease will have his or her unique set of symptoms. While many people live well with the disease for years, they are likely to need more and more support to cope with the varying symptoms as it progresses. It can affect the way people think, speak, behave and concentrate. It can change their personality. Someone with the disease may struggle to find the right words, or can no longer do simple daily tasks, such as dressing and bathing; things that we take for granted. In later stages they may no longer be able to recognise their loved ones.
During Dementia Awareness Week, the Alzheimer’s Society is asking everyone across the UK to unite against dementia. Dementia doesn’t care who you are; it doesn’t discriminate. By uniting, we can raise awareness, offer help and understanding, improve care and urgently ﬁnd a cure.