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Dementia campaign takes to the road

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Photo: The roadshow stand at St George’s Centre with (l-r) Cllr Azhar Ali, Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, Barry Newton & Cllr Lorraine Beavers

A roadshow event was launched today to raise awareness about the early signs of dementia and encourage people to visit their GP for a memory check.

The new campaign from Lancashire County Council is aimed at friends and relatives who may have noticed changes in the memory or behaviour of someone they know to help them start a conversation.

To support the campaign, Alzheimer’s Society is holding a promotional stand from 21 to 23 March at St George’s Centre, Preston, where members of the public can come along, find out more about the campaign and talk to dementia experts. Azhar Ali, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Lorraine Beavers, Lead Member for Health, and Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, Director of Public Health and Wellbeing at Lancashire County Council attended the event today, and they were joined by Barry Newton.

Barry, aged 66, from Lytham St Annes, was diagnosed with dementia two years ago. He had enjoyed a successful career with senior positions at the Ministry of Defence and other government departments. When he started noticing changes in his memory and speech, he tried to find out what was the problem.

“Before my diagnosis I was enjoying a full and active life but I started noticing changes in my memory and my speech and getting anxious about it. After speaking to my wife, I took the decision myself to go to the doctor and find out what the cause was. I was worried about the consequences of carrying on regardless and not doing anything.

“I have always had to make big decisions throughout my working life about contracts and organisational processes so it was a real shock to find out I had the early signs of dementia and I felt powerless. I also struggled to talk to the rest of the family about it at first. They were not ready to accept my diagnosis and would tell me to stop worrying as they thought I was fine at the moment.

“Many people are reluctant to go to the doctor because they think that even if it is dementia there’s nothing that can be done about it. My advice to them is that if they themselves are worried or if a family member is worried about someone they know, I’d tell them to find out more and make the appointment as there are things that can be done to help.

“I am having treatment for my condition which has really helped me. I have also been involved in a clinical trial, and participating in dementia research makes me feel like I am contributing to make things better for others.

“I have been involved in my local Dementia Action Alliance to help improve the lives of people with dementia and also a project to build a lifelong home for myself and share what I learn to build better homes for those living with dementia. This has made me feel more in control and that I’m not just sitting there, I can make a difference.

“Despite, my diagnosis I still have an active life and I and plan to continue with my consultancy work once I feel able to start again. I have made more decisions on a personal level, including about the most important partnership in my life with my wife Linda. We have had to change the way we make decisions and adjust roles and responsibilities, but at the moment I am managing my condition and my family are now really supportive.”

Deborah Parker, Operations Manager for Alzheimer’s Society in Lancashire said: “Receiving a timely dementia diagnosis and accessing post-diagnosis support is crucial to enable people with dementia and their carers to live well. Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Community Roadshow is a vital step in helping us to reach out to local communities and offer much-needed information and advice to those who are worried about their own, or someone else’s memory.

“Anyone with questions about dementia is encouraged to drop by, with no appointment necessary. Having launched in 2011, the roadshow has already made a big difference to the lives of people across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, reaching 143,000 people in the four years it has been on the road.

“Our information stand at St George’s Centre, Preston will signpost people with dementia and their carers to essential local services, and bringing people concerned about their memory, or that of a loved one, a step closer to achieving a diagnosis. This campaign from Lancashire County Council rightly raises awareness of dementia and the benefits a diagnosis can bring to improve lives of those living with this condition.”

The roadshow will be downstairs in St George’s Centre, Preston 21-23 March so come along to speak to a dementia expert or for more information, advice and support visit www.lancashire.gov.uk/dementia

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Photo: The roadshow stand at St George’s Centre with (l-r) Alex McCabe, Alzheimer’s Society, Barry Newton & Zakyeya Atcha, LCC public health consultant
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