One Gloucestershire is reaching out to anyone who believes they, or a loved one, might be experiencing signs of dementia and encouraging them to seek help during Dementia Action Week. The awareness raising initiative takes place from May 16 to May 22 and this year’s theme is supporting people living with dementia or young onset dementia in Gloucestershire and the importance of getting a diagnosis and making connections.
Activities and information will be available at a variety of locations across Gloucestershire to help people who believe they might be affected by dementia find out more about getting a diagnosis or learn more about dementia and the services that are available.
Dementia is a syndrome (a group of related symptoms) which includes problems with memory, language or thinking and changes in mood, emotions, perception and behaviour. It is a progressive disease which means symptoms worsen over time, even if they have been mild at first. The risk of developing dementia increases with age and the condition usually occurs in people over the age of 65.
Steve Shelley-King, Consultant Dementia Nurse at NHS Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust said that sometimes there can be barriers which prevent people from getting a diagnosis.  “As a society we tend to assume that memory loss is just part and parcel of getting old, but this can lead to a sense of denial for some people which then prevents them from seeking help”, he said.
“By getting out and about in the community during Dementia Action Week, we’re aiming to encourage those who might be living with, or close to, someone who has undiagnosed dementia to identify symptoms.
“Once this acknowledgement happens, they can come to us for support and start living well with dementia.”
Health and care services in Gloucestershire work closely with partner organisations to offer a range of support for people with dementia, their families and carers, which includes the Gloucestershire Dementia Action Alliance (Gloucestershire DAA).
Philip Sullivan MBE, Chair of the Gloucestershire DAA said: “The partnership strives to ensure that everyone in the county who is living with dementia is understood, respected and supported.  “The Alliance aims to help people continue to enjoy living well and contribute to their own community for as long as possible. By creating dementia friendly communities, we are helping society to understand the condition, which is so valuable in preventing people with dementia from withdrawing as their condition progresses.”
Dr Hein Le Roux, Clinical Lead for Dementia at NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said dementia can be difficult to diagnose, especially when symptoms are mild.
He said: “Reaching an early diagnosis can make a huge difference in helping someone stay independent for longer. It gives people, and their families, the best chance to prepare and plan for the future and receive any treatment that may be possible.
“Raising awareness and improving understanding of dementia is a key priority for One Gloucestershire and we are continuing to work hard to keep improving diagnoses rates.”
Jane Haros, Associate Director of Nursing at NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group is urging people to take part in a short survey to help shape future care.
She said: “It’s vitally important for us to get things right for people living with dementia, and for those important to them.
Each person with dementia is different when it comes to offering support, so it’s important that we understand ‘what matters to them’.
“If people share their experiences with us, we can use the information to develop help and support that is genuinely helpful.”
Share your experience via this short survey: