This weeks guest blog comes from Richard Baker, Early Stage Dementia Policy Officer for Age Scotland. Richard met the team this week and made a pledge to make a difference.
“I pledge to work to raise awareness of early stage dementia. I want to play my part in ensuring more people are diagnosed sooner and supported to live well with dementia”
Age Scotland has recently established an Early Stage Dementia project with funding from the Life Changes Trust and is looking forward to working with the ALLIANCE to support people with dementia. I recently joined the project as Team Leader and Policy Officer and was pleased to be able to meet the team at the ALLIANCE to hear about the fantastic work of Dementia Carers Voices. We discussed how working together we can raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of dementia, and how we can ensure people with dementia can receive the support they need in the early stages.
As part of the Early Stage Dementia project, we will be improving Age Scotland’s information and advice resources, by ensuring that our materials are suitable for people with dementia and their friends and relatives. We are also offering free training to charities and groups who support older people, or people with dementia – this covers a variety of subjects including signs and symptoms of dementia, and how to live well with a diagnosis.
We want to ensure that when people have been diagnosed with dementia they, and their friends and family, know where they can go to for support. Through partnership working with Dementia Carers Voices on this key part of the project we will promote greater awareness of the support services people with dementia can benefit from.
We will also work to improve public knowledge on how healthy living can have a significant impact on both preventing dementia and slowing the onset for those living with the condition. Research has shown that smoking, diet and levels of activity can all increase the risk of developing dementia, and we want to get that message out across Scotland.
Dementia Carers Voices has already had a huge impact in ensuring more people know what life is like for people who are affected by dementia. It was fantastic to hear about the tens of thousands of people who have had their awareness of dementia raise by the success of Tommy’s Tour. But despite the fantastic work currently going on, and higher rates of diagnosis in Scotland, there is still so much to do. Even now around a third of people who have dementia in Scotland do not have a formal diagnosis, and we know from speaking to our member groups there is still a challenge around ensuring people are confident about seeking support. That is why we need to work together to tackle stigma which still remains around dementia, and to encourage more people to get an early diagnosis.
To find out more about the work of Age Scotland’s Early Stage Dementia project, to arrange training or to let us know what information you would find helpful you can contact the team on ESDteam@agescotland.org.uk or call 0333 32 32 400