Health bosses at Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland are calling for more awareness of dementia to help those affected by the condition.
The call comes as part of Dementia Awareness Week, a week of national campaigning on the illness, which affects one in three people over 65.
Latest figures show just over 3000 people have been diagnosed with dementia in East Leicestershire and Rutland. Health experts anticipate this figure will rise by as much as 70 per cent in the coming years, with an ageing population in the region.
However, there are ways everyone can help improve the lives of people with dementia, like developing a ‘dementia-friendly community’.
Although dementia is most common in people over 65 years, it can affect younger people. The symptoms to look out for include: memory loss, periods of mental confusion including disorientation, difficulties with tasks that require concentration and planning and noticeable changes in personality and mood.
Rob Mair is a 92-year-old who has been diagnosed with dementia. He lives in Asfordby with his daughter Liz, but remains active and regularly goes out independently into the community.
His daughter Liz, is his carer and believes an informal arrangement with his local pub whereby staff ensure he eats some food and gets home safely is ‘invaluable’.
She said: “These informal arrangements are life-savers and I would encourage anyone who cares for a person - who needs extra support to keep them safe - to start having conversations and make your local community aware. Most people are really helpful and kind.
“Community support gives you as a carer a chance to worry less, knowing the person you care for can go out independently, because someone is keeping an eye on them. If they are able to get out by themselves I would encourage it, because ultimately if it’s what they want to do.
“Having that independence is vitally important and you’ve got to find ways to manage that risk to keep their quality of life.”
Promoting dementia-friendly communities and improving awareness of dementia could become increasingly important with predictions that more people will be affected by the condition in the coming years.
Dr Girish Purohit, GP Clinical Lead for dementia in LLR, said: “We’ve been developing plans to improve formal care and support for people with dementia and their carers but we’re aware of some fabulous examples of communities in LLR already making small interventions that can make a big difference to the lives of both carers and patients.”
“Just by knowing the signs of dementia and what to look out for – whether it’s a neighbour, someone you’re concerned about in public or someone who is a customer where you work, you can help. Equally, we’d encourage anyone who thinks they might have dementia to see their GP”.
The development of a new joint-commissioning programme will bring health and social care organisations in LLR together to provide higher quality and less-fragmented support services for patients, following diagnosis. A new dementia support service is being procured by the three LLR CCGs with Leicester City Council and Leicestershire County Council. It will align with existing services provided for people in Rutland.
A new strategy is also expected to come into effect later this year which will reflect changes to national and local policy.
A number of practical improvements for people with dementia and their carers have already been implemented, including identifying carers of people with dementia through practice registration systems to help improve access to support.
Research also suggests that people living with dementia stay, on average, twice as long in hospital compared with someone of a similar age without the condition. Plans to improve and simplify the options for people ready to be transferred from Leicester’s hospitals are being developed with health and social care professionals.
You can find out more about dementia on the NHS Choices website. For more information about dementia-friendly communities, visit the Alzheimer’s Society website.
You should see your GP if you have concerns about memory loss.