Early intervention is key to dementia support, says Age UK Norfolk AGM speaker

Professor Alistair Burns speaking at the Age UK Norfolk conference. Picture: Ian Burt

Professor Alistair Burns speaking at the Age UK Norfolk conference. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

Dementia is the most feared illness in people over 50 and costs the UK £26 billion pounds a year.

Professor Alistair Burns speaking at the Age UK Norfolk conference. Picture: Ian Burt

Professor Alistair Burns speaking at the Age UK Norfolk conference. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

These were just two of the statistics highlighted by the keynote speaker at Age UK Norfolk's annual meeting in Mattishall today.

Professor Alistair Burns, who is professor of old age psychiatry at the University of Manchester, spoke to the assembled members at the meeting to raise awareness of the challenges of dementia and share the work that is being done to research the illness and find treatments.

He spoke of the complex issues of dementia that affect its sufferers in different ways but added that there was hope of a breakthrough in treatment to slow the progression of the disease with results of a new trial due out in October.

'Dementia disconnects you from yourself, your family and your community,' he said.


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'Two thirds of those diagnosed report a loss of confidence, almost half are worried about being a burden and a third go out of the house less than once a week.

'But taking a backwards glance over the past five years, awareness is high, diagnosis rates are up from a third to two-thirds and we have 600,000 dementia-trained NHS staff.'

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Dementia tests are now included in routine NHS health checks to enable earlier diagnosis, which was a marker of how far acceptance of the illness has come, he said.

'Early intervention can help,' he added, saying that the key areas of work being carried out were in prevention, diagnosis and support to enable sufferers to live well and die well.

The meeting also heard from Sue Greaves, Money Matters and advocacy assistant manager for Age UK Norfolk who explained the different ways their service enabled the elderly to make their voice heard and stay in their own homes for longer with help managing their affairs.

Chairman Helen Jones explained the future plans for the organisation which include focusing on new retail stores such as the recently opened Furniture & More shop in Dereham.

With an entertaining welcome and vote of thanks 94-year-old Emily Millington-Smith MBE was re-elected as president.

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