Dementia is a growing health and social care challenge across the country. Due to an ageing population, a dramatic increase in the numbers of people diagnosed with dementia is expected in the coming years.
Dementia is the most common cause of death in women and second most common in men. 38% of people in the UK know a family member or friend with dementia.
There are an estimated 1,700 people aged 65 and over living with dementia in the Dover district and figures predict this will increase by around 70% to 3,000 people by 2030.
People affected by dementia can face many difficulties. We are committed to helping to improve awareness and understanding of dementia within our communities and have become the first district council in Kent to be officially recognised by Dementia Friendly Kent as a ‘working to become dementia friendly’ organisation. We aim to support the district to be an inclusive and accessible place where people can live well with dementia.
What are the signs of dementia?
Dementia is not a single illness, but a group of symptoms caused by damage to the brain. You should look out for:
- memory loss, such as remembering past events much more easily than recent ones
- problems thinking or reasoning, or finding it hard to follow conversations or TV programmes
- feeling anxious, depressed or angry about memory loss, or feeling confused, even when in a familiar environment
If you, or someone you know, are showing signs of dementia, please visit your GP. An early diagnosis may help you get the right treatment and support in place in good time.
Helping someone with dementia
Five simple ways:
- Respect and dignity - focus on what the person can do, not what they can’t.
- Be a good listener and be friendly - support and accept the person, be patient.
- Do one little thing - cook a meal or run an errand, it all helps.
- Make time for everyone - partners, children and grandchildren will be affected. Could you do something to help one of them?
- Find out more - understanding dementia makes living with it easier.
- Encourage them to keep a notebook or diary for things such as appointments, to do lists, thoughts and ideas
- Keep important things like money, glasses, and keys in the same place
- Put labels on doors and cupboards
- Place important numbers by the phone where they can be seen easily
- Put a note on the back of the door as a reminder to take keys
- Label family photographs, both on display and in albums
- Pin a weekly timetable to the wall
- Mark a calendar with the date or get an electronic calendar that changes automatically
- Write reminders to lock the door at night, turn off the gas off and put rubbish out on a certain day
There are products you can buy which are designed to help with memory problems – telephones where the buttons are replaced with photos of people, and pill boxes with compartments for different days. An occupational therapist may be able to advise you on what things could be most helpful (you can find out about an occupational therapist through your GP or Kent County Council’s Adult Social Care Team).
What is good for the heart is good for the brain
Guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommend reducing the risk of, or delay the onset of, disability, dementia and frailty by:
- stopping smoking
- being more active
- reducing your alcohol consumption
- improving your diet
- losing weight if necessary and maintaining a healthy weight
Please see our Living Well pages for information on how we can all make small changes to our lifestyles now to improve our health.
Sources of information
The NHS dementia guide has collected the best of trusted NHS information, videos, real stories and information from around the web into one online hub.
There are also good resources from charities such as:
Useful phone contacts
- Kent Dementia Helpline: 0800 500 3014
- East Kent Independent Dementia Support: 01227 730000
- Royal Surgical Aid Society (East Kent): 01227 749570 (Dementia Services Link Worker)
- Alzheimer's Society: 01303 260674
- Carer's Support (Canterbury, Dover and Thanet): 01304 364637
Become a dementia friend
More than 2 million people have signed up to become 'Dementia Friends' in England. Launched by the Alzheimer's Society in 2013, the initiative aims to change the way we all think, act and talks about the condition. Find out how you could become a Dementia Friend.