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Dementia Friends to launch in Scotland this Autumn

Around 800,000 people in the UK have dementia.


The word dementia describes a set of symptoms which include memory loss, and difficulty with thinking, problem solving and language. These symptoms can sometimes be caused by other things however, so it’s important to get a diagnosis as soon as possible. Your GP may refer you to a specialist consultant. Assessments are likely to include conversations with you and your loved ones, a physical examination, memory tests and/or a brain scan.

Dementia is caused when the brain is damaged by diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease or a series of strokes.  Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, affecting 62 per cent of those diagnosed. Other types include vascular dementia affecting 17 per cent, and mixed dementia which affects 10 per cent of those diagnosed.

Those with dementia may be given medicines to help with symptoms and slow down progression, but as yet there is no cure. Some sufferers also attend day centres and support groups. Carers can get help from local Carers Groups, Social Services and specially trained nurses. These nurses specialise in dementia and provide practical and emotional support as well as information to families, friends and professionals.

One of the other major charities working in this area, providing practical support to patients and carers is the Alzheimer’s Society. This is a membership organisation which provides local support services, including day care and home care and befriending and support for families and partners of those with dementia. They also provide fact sheets and publications and have a helpline and an online forum called talking point. In addition, the Alzheimer’s Society fund research, provide training and development and campaign to raise awareness.

One of their recent initiatives is Dementia Friends. You may have seen the television adverts for this which included lots of celebrity support. Anyone can become a Dementia Friend.  Dementia Friends Scotland is launching this autumn, but you can register now at their website.

This campaign is all about increasing understanding about dementia, and educating people so that they can help those with the condition. Dementia Friends learn a little bit about what it’s like to have dementia and then turn this understanding into action.  This could include helping someone get on the correct bus, or being patient if someone with dementia is taking a long time to find the right change when paying for their goods at a till. To become a friend you watch a short video on the website then register or attend a local information session.


Where to find help and support

The Alzheimer’s Society (Scotland) :

Helpline: Call 0808 808 300

Dementia Friends:

NHS Scotland

Helpline 08456 001 001