G8 update :~

Just thought I’d share a short article I wrote for our local newspaper, the Blackpool Gazette: G8 Dementia Summit overview:

Dementia has been making headline news at last. As a Dementia Friends Champion, I’ve been following the G8 Dementia Summit which took place in London earlier this week and saw nations of the world pledging to step up research into a disease of the brain which affects over 35 million people worldwide and over 800,000 people in the UK.

Addressing delegates, the British Prime Minister, David Cameron urged scientists, politicians and businesses to commit to dementia funding, share data and be resolute in finding a cure. Recognising the effect of dementia on the family unit, Cameron said, ‘Dementia steals lives, it wrecks families, it breaks hearts and that is why we’re so utterly determined to beat it.’

The government has now announced doubling funding for dementia research to £122m by 2025 and confirmed that a scan would be available on the NHS which could help some people rule out Alzheimer’s disease.

Improving care, quality of life, preventing or delaying dementia and adapting to an ageing society are issues discussed at the summit. Health secretary, Jeremy Hunt advised that; ‘One in three of us would get dementia; one in four people in UK hospitals have dementia.’ As costs clearly extend beyond hospital care into social and community care, Hunt said ‘But the real reason to do something about dementia is not financial.The real reason is human. Everyone deserves to live their final years with dignity, respect and the support of loved-ones.’

It’s clear we’re all going to live longer. The number of people with dementia is set to rise and it seems an updated model of social care will be essential for well-being. Research has revealed that social care is just as important as a healthy diet or assisted daily living: bathing or getting dressed. My own research has identified how enriched social care can be applied easily [sometimes just talking is enough] and benefit both the person who needs care and the carer. Interaction can help a person with dementia to maintain skills, encourage movement and enhance well-being.

Besides fun social interaction workshops for carers, I have developed social activity recipe books, moments in time activities, things to do together, conversation prompts for hospital volunteers, community resources and memory joggers for families.

As part of the Happy Days programme, I am as resolute and passionate as the G8 summit delegates in helping people to live well with dementia.

by Gillian Hesketh MA