Facing up to increasing challenge of dementia

Councillor Michael O'DonnellCouncillor Michael O'Donnell
Councillor Michael O'Donnell

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The number of people with dementia in East Dunbartonshire is on the rise ‑ but measures are being put in place to meet the challenge head on.

The world’s leading nations met at the first G8 Dementia Summit in London recently and agreed that co-ordinated action must be taken to deal with the problem.

Dementia has been described as the biggest health and care problem of a generation and the number of people diagnosed with the condition in Kirkintilloch, Bishopbriggs and beyond is rising, with implications for public services and policies, such as housing, leisure and education.

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Over 1,950 people in East Dunbartonshire have dementia - rising from 1,878 in 2012.Of these 1,890 are aged over 65. Some 300 new cases are anticipated between April 2013 and March 2014.

Dementia is recognised as a long-term condition which is likely to increase in line with life expectancy and, as our population ages, more people will come into contact with someone with dementia, either through family, friends, neighbours or people in their community .

Councillor Michael O’Donnell, convener of East Dunbartonshire Council’s social work committee, said the authority is taking a pro-active stance against the problem.

He said: “People with dementia, their families and carers need support, information and advice to come to terms with a diagnosis of dementia.

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“It is possible to live well with the condition, but planning is required around symptom management and planning for the changes that dementia brings.

“In East Dunbartonshire we have worked very hard to ensure that the range of health, social work, housing, third sector and voluntary agencies work together to meet the expectations of people with dementia and their families.

“Through our Change Fund we have developed a range of community access points for the public to seek advice, information and support.

“Everyone with a new diagnosis of dementia from April 2013 has a named link worker to support them through the first year of their diagnosis in line with the National Post Diagnostic Support Guarantee.

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“As part of the work being done in the community, East Dunbartonshire Dementia Network and its partners are committed to delivering two ‘dementia friendly’ localities by 2014 and two more by 2016.”

Councillor O’Donnell added: “People who have dementia, and their families, are often subject to stigma and experience isolation and depression. ‘Dementia friendly’ means improving opportunities for inclusion through awareness and dementia sensitive environments.”

A dementia awareness teaching resource - the first of its kind in Scotland - to help teach children about dementia has also been developed in East Dunbartonshire and will be rolled out in January 2014.

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