Croydon’s communities are being encouraged to unite and take action to help improve the lives of people with dementia.
Croydon Council and the borough’s clinical commissioning group (CCG) is supporting Dementia Awareness Week, between 14 and 20 May, by asking residents and their employees to sign-up to the Dementia Friends initiative at www.dementiafriends.org.uk. Signing up will help spread the message to those affected that help and support are on-hand.
Becoming a Dementia Friend simply means finding out more about how dementia affects a person – and then, armed with this understanding, doing small, everyday things that help. For example, being patient in a shop queue, or spending time with someone you know who is living with dementia.
This year’s awareness week, which is organised by the Alzheimer’s Society charity, is backed by a host of celebrities including comedian Jo Brand, Olympic champion James Cracknell, actress Meera Syal and former footballer Robbie Savage. They are encouraging everyone to come together to take action, raise awareness, offer help and understanding to improve care, and urgently ﬁnd a cure for the condition.
Dementia is set to be the 21st century’s biggest killer says the charity, and it is estimated that someone develops the illness every three minutes.
A serious progressive disease, dementia can lead to memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or communication. But not enough people are aware of the facts about dementia and this is leading to people with the condition or their carers, family and friends to face it alone.
In the nine years to 2019, it is expected that Croydon will see a 21% increase in people aged over 65, some of whom will experience social isolation, reduced independence and dementia. The onset of the disease can, however, begin at a much younger age.
Eligible residents aged between 40 and 74 are entitled to a Free NHS Health Check, which can detect the early signs of a range of problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and dementia. Getting treatment early can help to better manage these and other problems.
Rachel Flowers, Croydon’s director of public health, said: “Far too many people with dementia say they are living alone with the disease. That’s why we’re urging Croydon residents to play their part during Dementia Awareness Week by signing up to become a Dementia Friend today.
“I signed up when my Dad was diagnosed with dementia a few years ago and it really helped me and my family and, most importantly, my Dad.
“Dementia Friends provides a great understanding about dementia and language that we can all use. Even if you don’t become a Dementia Friend, we all need to become more aware about how best to support those who have dementia, as well as giving help to their close family and friends.”
Dr Tony Brzezicki, the CCG’s clinical chair, said: “People living with dementia often feel misunderstood, marginalised and isolated. It’s vital that we extend our efforts in Croydon to support them so that they’re not excluded from their communities. Every bit of help counts, no matter how small.”
 Community Strategy 2016-21 – Croydon Council – http://www.croydonobservatory.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Community_Strategy_2016_21.pdf
Annual Report of the Director of Public Health 2016, Croydon Council – https://www.croydon.gov.uk/sites/default/files/articles/downloads/Director_of_Public_Health_Report%202016.