Fakenham joins campaign to turn Norfolk dementia-friendly

Tonight's meeting at Fakenham Racecourse. Picture: Chris Bishop

Tonight's meeting at Fakenham Racecourse. Picture: Chris Bishop - Credit: Archant

More than 100 attended a public meeting at the town's racecourse tonight.

They heard there are 17,000 people living with the degenerative condition in Norfolk and the number is expected to reach 30,000 over the next 20 years as the population ages.

Retired GP George Acheson, who compered the event, said it was intended to get Fakenham set up as a dementia-friendly town, raising awareness of the illness and the steps businesses and other organisations could take to support those affected.

Willie Cruickshank, chief executive of the Norfolk and Suffolk Dementia Alliance, said people were living longer but more were falling victim to age-related diseases such as vascular dementia, which has no known cure.

He said symptoms included loss of memory, skill and judgement, adding one in three over-65s would develop the condition.

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'It's the single biggest health fear in the UK over-55 population,' he said. 'It now outstrips cancer by a mile.'

He said it was essential support was put in place for people so they could continue to live in the community for as long as possible.

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Mr Cruickshank said the British Standards Institute had defined a dementia-friendly community as one where people with dementia are understood, respected and supported.

Claire Gilbert, the dementia alliance's lead for workforce development, said businesses could help with a 'friendly face' and understanding.

A steering group which will meet every three months has been set up, led by First Focus Fakenham.

Its manager April Simnor said she was 'amazed and shocked' at the number of people who had turned out for the meeting.

She said staff at the charity had been trained to provide cognitive stimulation therapy and would be offering session at its premises at the scout hut off Oak Street from Wednesday, June 22.

Businesses in the town are being invited to two three-hour training workshops being run by Age UK Norfolk. The first is being held at Hayes and Storr Solicitors, on the Market Place, on Wednesday, June 1 (1pm). The second will be at Fakenham Connect on Wednesday, June 8 (5.30pm).

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