Since 2012, September has been marked as World Alzheimer’s Month, the centrepiece of which is World Alzheimer’s Day, which falls on the 21st September every year. With over 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK and over 50 million people worldwide, these occasions are a great opportunity to raise awareness of this widespread and pernicious condition.
Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia with between 60-80 percent of cases, but there are many other types, including Vascular Dementia or Huntington’s Disease. Dementia is most commonly diagnosed for people over the age of 65, however it can also affect people under the age of 65.
I have seen first-hand the effect Alzheimer’s has on family members, and seen the heartache of people trying to cope as their loved ones suffer. That is why events such as World Alzheimer’s Day are so very important to highlight the problems individuals and families go through when they are affected by dementia. I have taken a keen interest in these issues; when I was first elected, I formed the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia in 2007 and I continue to support the vital work this group does.
Research is crucial to understanding and tackling dementia and the Government has doubled research spending on dementia. This will be maintained to total over £300 million by 2020, with the UK’s first ever Dementia Research Institute receiving £150 million.
The government is committed to supporting those with dementia. Over 660,000 NHS staff have received dementia training already, with further training opportunities rolled out to all NHS staff by the end of 2018. Over 100,000 social care workers have also received some form of dementia awareness training.
More needs to be done and it is vitally important that we continue to increase public awareness of dementia, and I am encouraged that since June 2017 around 2.5 million people have signed up to become a Dementia Friend.
Dementia Friends is an excellent initiative developed by the Alzheimer’s Society to try and change the way people view dementia through making people more aware and informed on the subject. It also shows how you can make a difference to people suffering from dementia as every action counts.
If you would like to become a Dementia Friend or find out more about the role you can see more about this fantastic initiative at: https://www.dementiafriends.org.uk