If you thought Dementia only happens to other people, think again. Residents, community groups and businesses in Ilfracombe are finding out that there are many types of Dementia, caused by diseases of the brain, Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (CJD) and even excess alcohol, and that it can affect people of all ages.
Three people from One Ilfracombe, the organisation whose aims are to improve the health, economy and environment of the town, are now qualified to explain how the disease affects people’s physical and mental health, and how the symptoms can be recognised and treated.
One of the first steps to becoming a Dementia Friendly Town is to raise awareness in the community and the awareness raising sessions will allow us all to recognise the early symptoms of the disease and help friends, family, neighbours and colleagues to face the future and, most importantly, help slow down progression by getting professional help and relevant medication, and by keeping their brains active.
Attendees at a recent Dementia Awareness course said they didn’t realise that the disease can affect young people, or that it can be slowed down by catching it in the early stages. They were also surprised by the amount of help and support available locally, through groups such as ‘Musical Memories’, which uses singing to help people express themselves.
One of the Dementia Awareness trainers, Kerry Turton, who manages Pinehurst Care Home said: “Most of Pinehurst’s residents have Dementia so I’ve always been aware of the effect of disease in its later stages. By helping people in Ilfracombe understand the early stages we can slow down the progression and help people with Dementia lead near normal lives. We have had over 50 people attend the Dementia Awareness training so far, and all have said it was beneficial and had changed their thinking about dementia.”
Another trainer, Maggie Malloy who works at North Devon Voluntary Services, commented: “At NDVS we work with many of the community groups around the town. We are involved in the Dementia Awareness training to help groups understand the disease, encourage people with Dementia to join up and to be on the look out for the early symptoms of the disease.”
Councillor Janice Donovan is Ilfracombe Town Council’s ‘Dementia Champion’ and the latest to attend a three day training session to learn how to run Dementia Awareness sessions. She says that there are already lots more people interested in attending a Dementia Awareness course, so be sure to register soon.