Moves to improve dementia education welcomed for Norfolk’s ageing population

PUBLISHED: 19:56 12 February 2013 | UPDATED: 09:39 13 February 2013

Attempts to improve the lives of the region’s growing number of dementia sufferers by educating more people about the disease have been welcomed.

The Alzheimer’s Society yesterday officially launched a drive to improve awareness of the condition, which is associated with an ongoing decline of the brain, among more than one million people by 2015.

Prime minister David Cameron was among those who completed a “dementia friends” session. These aim to explain what life is like for people with dementia and what can be done to help them in the community.

Shelagh Gurney, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for adult social services, said it was crucial to raise awareness, particularly in a county with an ageing population.

She said: “I think it’s very, very important that in Norfolk people are aware of what dementia really means and it’s symptoms and how it can affect the person, loved ones and family.

“What we also have to do is work on how we can make life more comfortable for people suffering from it.”

Alzheimer’s Society staff will run two sessions at The Space, in Roundtree Way, Norwich, on Tuesday, February 26, from 10.30am and 1.30pm.

As reported, the society released figures which suggested there were more than 8,000 people in Norfolk who have undiagnosed dementia, with a diagnosis rate of 36pc.

The charity estimated a further 5,300 people in Suffolk were not receiving treatment, with the county having a diagnosis rate of 42pc.

Officials from the group warned the numbers of undiagnosed cases are set to increase over the next eight years - unless more is done to raise awareness and help patients.

Health data has previously suggested 14,241 people in central Norfolk could have dementia by 2011, with the number of cases to continue increasing among people aged over 65.

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Dementia Friends isn’t about creating experts, it’s about helping people understand a little bit more about what it’s like to live with the condition and then turn that understanding into action - anyone of any age can be a dementia friend.”

It is argued early diagnosis and treatment reduces the need for more expensive hospital treatment later. Norman Lamb, health minister and North Norfolk MP, has previously urged people to join dementia friends.

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