The UK-wide Dementia Action Week, promoted by Alzheimer’s Society UK to raise awareness about dementia, comes to a close today.
Dementia is not a single disease, but rather an umbrella term covering brain disorders where a person loses some of their body’s functions. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, which accounts for 62% of dementia cases, according to Alzheimer’s Society. The society also estimates that there are currently 850,000 people in the UK currently diagnosed with dementia and 225,000 people will develop the terminal condition this year.
Marking the start of Dementia Action Week in Southampton, British Gas conducted a survey looking at the extent to which Southampton residents are both aware of and affected by the condition.
According to The Daily Echo, they found near half (49%) of all Southampton residents have dementia themselves or have a close family member or friend who has the condition. The study also found 78% of respondents understood that those diagnosed with dementia are concerned about feeling disorientated and confused.
Dementia Action Week seeks to raise awareness of the condition and to gain commitments from individuals, companies and other organisations to take action in order to make the lives of those diagnosed with dementia a little easier. Symbolising the new emphasis during this year’s campaign was the title ‘Dementia Action Week’ – previously Alzheimer’s Society had called it ‘Dementia Awareness Week’.
The hashtag #DAW18 was launched, while individuals diagnosed with dementia were asked to share what small actions people can take to assist them. These could range from ‘asking people to be more patient in check-out queues’ to including them in conversations more.
One notable part of the campaign this year was a partnership between Alzheimer’s Society and Home Instead Senior Care to get 1,000’s ‘singing for dementia’. Prior research has found that old songs can provide therapeutic benefits to the brain, reactivating areas that are particularly resistant to the damaging effects of dementia. This means that while people with dementia may struggle to recall day-to-day information, they still can retain the lyrics to old songs.
Ten songs were chosen, based on a survey of Home Instead Senior Care patients and their carers, including Frank Sinatra’s My Way.
Another significant development during Dementia Action Week was Prime Minister Theresa May’s announcement on Monday that tackling dementia was the first major mission of the government’s recently launched Ageing Society Grand Challenge strategy.
With the number of people diagnosed with the condition set to rise to over 1 million by 2021, the importance of the annual Dementia Action Week is set to only grow.