“September is a busy month for everyone here at Alzheimer’s Society, we all work tirelessly to support the 850,000 people affected by dementia in the UK. This month we have World Alzheimer’s month and day (21/09/21), we also have Memory Walk’s all across the UK, (to sign up visit alzheimers.org.uk/memorywalk) and this year Alzheimer’s Society have just announced their charitable partnership with the Football Association. All this positive activity is good news, as people living with or affected by dementia have been worst hit by Covid-19.

The isolation and devastation of the pandemic means many service users had to rely on online services and zoom calls throughout the pandemic. Much of my time during lockdown was spent keeping in touch with people. There are 15,300 people living with dementia in West Sussex and their needs are at the forefront of my mind in all the work I do. We are slowly returning to in person meetings now, with all the appropriate safety measures, which is a relief. My hope for World Alzheimer’s month and day, is that people in the wider community get out and do something to demonstrate their support for people living with dementia and their loved ones. Now really is the time to take action and do what you can to support those affected.

It could be as simple as starting a conversation with your friendship group, challenging the stigma of dementia, or by participating in an event like Memory Walk. You can create your own Memory Walk too, as we did last year or attend one of the many larger events that happen across the country. The Horsham Rusty Brains who I work with locally, created a socially distanced walk last year, as we all felt it was important to continue to raise awareness and funds for people affected by dementia. There currently is no cure for dementia, so events like this raise awareness and bring people living with and affected by dementia out into a public space. The beauty of these events is that conversations begin, the dementia stigma is challenged, and new ideas are shared.

I know from working closely with people affected by dementia, that any activity that highlights the issues they face is very important to them and offers the community encouragement through the hard times. We all like to know that we are being considered and included in our communities. Dementia can be isolating and frightening, so groups, events and awareness days and months offer validation and hope.

Sadly, the pandemic has hit research funding hard and stalled progress, which is concerning. We need public support now more than ever to help us continue our ground-breaking research, that will make a world without dementia a reality. Medical progress has saved and improved the lives of thousands of people with heart disease, stroke and cancer. Now it is time to see the breakthroughs in dementia research. Events like World Alzheimer’s Day (and month) and Memory Walk draw attention to the plight of people living with and affected by dementia. This is important because annual statistics currently show COVID-19 as the UK’s biggest killer, moving dementia to second for the first time since 2015. But deaths from dementia remain high compared with other major diseases. 

People living with dementia and their carers need consistent and reliable support and to feel that they matter. Throughout lockdown I have worked with numerous groups on everything from delivering shopping to keeping people’s spirits high and inviting local MPs to speak and exchange ideas. The Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Connect support line service was accessed 5.5 million times, which clearly illustrates how great the need for support is across the country.

Dementia Connect 

Dementia Connect operates at a local and national level, connecting people with support in their community, seven days a week. If you or anyone you care for are concerned about your memory, do call. Dementia Connect can help get the right support in place. Dementia Connect, is a personalised service that offers support, by phone, online, and face to face. Support provided can include:

  • Advice on how to cope and live with dementia
  • Tips for making a home dementia-friendly
  • Support with everyday living such as government benefits
  • Help navigating social services
  • Advice on legal documents and Lasting Power of Attorney
  • Connection to dementia groups within local communities

World Alzheimer’s Day and Memory Walk and our partnership with the Football Association have one central theme in common, they are all focussed on raising awareness and funds to support people living with or affected by dementia. We know that everyone’s experience of dementia is different and that their needs vary greatly too, depending on the challenges they and their loved ones are facing at any given time.

The more we all come together and focus on dementia in our communities, by walking, raising awareness or fundraising, the more we are improving the lives of people living with dementia and their families. My hope is that this September and on World Alzheimer’s Day itself we can all do something to contribute, however small or large it may be. That way we are one step closer to a cure and better care and support for people living with dementia.

For more information and for ideas, visit alzheimers.org.uk and if you need support call Dementia Connect on 0333 150 3456. We are here for you.”