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Reduce your risk of dementia this Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

18 Sep 18 - 11 Sep 19

There are almost 20,000 people aged over 65 currently living with dementia across Hertfordshire and west Essex. By 2035, that number is expected to have grown to around 33,000.

September is World Alzheimer’s Month and locally, health and social care organisations are raising awareness of what you can do to reduce the risk of developing dementia and slow the progress of dementia if you are already affected by the disease.

“What’s good for the heart is good for the brain,” explained Dr Mike Walker, Old Age Psychiatrist at Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (HPFT). “We want people to know the exciting news about preventing dementia.  By keeping mentally and physically active, giving up smoking and seeking early help when you’re unwell, you can reduce your risk of getting dementia and slow the impact of the disease.”

There are ways that everyone can help people living with dementia – by recognising the effects and giving them a bit more time and understanding.

“We’re hoping more communities across our area will become Dementia Friendly, joining the Alzheimer’s Society initiative to be more understanding of people living with dementia,” continued Mike. “There are small things you can do to make a difference to someone with dementia, like being understanding in a queue when an older person is counting out their money, staying in touch with someone with dementia and speaking in short simple sentences.”

Across Hertfordshire and west Essex, there are several ‘Dementia Friendly Communities’, which have pledged to work towards becoming dementia-friendly using the Alzheimer’s Society guidelines, including Tring and Wheathampstead in Hertfordshire, and all three districts and boroughs in west Essex: Harlow, Epping Forest and Uttlesford. There are dementia action alliances (DAA) in even more places.

Helping people age well and live healthy, independent and active lives for as long as possible, is a key part of the Hertfordshire and west Essex Sustainability and Transformation Partnership’s vision. The partnership, which includes all the NHS and social care organisations across the area, is committed to promoting healthy lifestyle initiatives.

If you would like to find out what you can do to make a difference to someone with dementia, visit www.dementiafriends.org.uk and book a place on a free, one-hour Dementia Friends session. These are taking place across Hertfordshire and west Essex, including in libraries.

Hertswise is the Hertfordshire service which helps people living with dementia and their friends, families and carers. For more information, call HertsHelp on 0300 123 4044. If you live in west Essex, call the Alzheimer's Society Essex Community Dementia Support Service on 01245 260911 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm).

There’s information about dementia at www.alzheimers.org.uk/ and on the NHS website at www.nhs.uk/conditions/dementia/

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