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Health & Fitness Dementia carers across Cornwall thanked for help and hard work through pandemic

23:05  23 may  2021
23:05  23 may  2021 Source:   graziadaily.co.uk

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People in Cornwall who care for dementia sufferers are being praised for all their help and hard work through the coronavirus pandemic.

a group of people posing for the camera: An online therapy event for those with dementia in Cornwall © Provided by Grazia An online therapy event for those with dementia in Cornwall

According to the Alzheimer's Society, the number of people with dementia in Cornwall will increase by 53% in the next 10 years.

NHS Digital figures show that 4,851 older people in Cornwall have a dementia diagnosis, however the number of those living with the condition is estimated to be around 9,101.

Research by the Alzheimer's Society predicts that the number will swell to 13,900 in 2030.

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It comes as a Cornish GP and dementia champion is recognising the hard work, compassion and dedication of people who care for people with dementia, and their families, to mark dementia action week.

Dr Allison Hibbert, NHS Kernow’s clinical lead for dementia, has thanked health, care, public service and voluntary sector colleagues for their commitment during the past year.

“I know first-hand how people living with dementia and those close to them have struggled through the pandemic. I have been humbled by the strength and courage of people when I have listened to the stories of my patients and their carers. There is no doubt the dementia community have been one of the most adversely affected groups. Loved ones lost, isolation, confusion and lack of face-to-face contact have made the past 12 months an incredibly distressing time.

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“As well as being difficult for people living with dementia, it has also been a very challenging time for professionals and volunteers working and supporting people. We have had to adapt quickly to the situation and whilst I acknowledge we haven’t always got it right, I have seen many examples where people have gone above and beyond, determined to deliver compassionate care.”

Dr Hibbert, who also chairs the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly dementia partnership board

Technology has been one of the biggest hurdles for services to conquer during the pandemic. Hospitals, care homes and community groups had to close their doors to visits leaving the elderly cut off from regular social interaction.

One example of many support groups that adapted digitally to connect with their members is Memory Matters South West which provides compassionate support, therapies and peer-led activities for people living with dementia.

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“When COVID hit we knew we had to think creatively about how we stayed in touch with our members. People were left in very vulnerable, isolating situations, many were not used to socialising online.”

graphical user interface, application: An online therapy event for those with dementia in Cornwall © Provided by Grazia An online therapy event for those with dementia in Cornwall

Laura Walker, co-founder and chief executive of Memory Matters South West


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Laura and her team committed to offering their member sessions virtually. They had low expectations about how it could work online but within a few weeks most of their members were set up and actively participating from their own homes.”

Laura added: “We refused to accept that people living with dementia wouldn’t be able to get online and we were determined to support them. We secured funding for the technology and provided our members with Facebook portals, people with dementia or their carers to access. We gave technical support and easy read instructions and very quickly they were ready for the weekly meetings. One of our members Clare even celebrated her 100th birthday online with us!”

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Dr Hibbert added: “On dementia action week we are raising awareness of the condition, and the support available to people and their families.

“I also want to take this moment to champion our dementia professionals. The doctors, nurses and community groups who have refused to let the challenges of how they care, stop the caring.”

graphical user interface, application: Memory Matters cognitive simulation therapy event © Credits: NHS Kernow Memory Matters cognitive simulation therapy event

Help and support:

Symptoms of dementia include:

memory loss

thinking speed

mental sharpness and quickness

using words incorrectly, or trouble speaking

understanding

difficulties doing daily activities

People with dementia can lose interest in their usual activities, and may have problems managing their behaviour or emotions, and aspects of their personality may change. They may also find social situations difficult and lose interest in relationships and socialising.

Although there is no cure for dementia, an early diagnosis helps people get the right treatment and support. It can also help them to prepare for the future.

With treatment and support, many people are able to lead active, fulfilled lives with dementia.

Anyone who is worried about their mental health, or that of a loved one should talk to their GP. There are also lots of dementia services in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to support people. Find out more about dementia services in Cornwall.

Call the Dementia Helpline for free on 0800 888 6678 or the Alzheimer’s Society on 0333 150 3456.

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