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Britain Takes Collective Action to Combat Dementia Misunderstanding During Dementia Action Week

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As the UK marks another Dementia Action Week (13–19 May 2024), a concerted effort from various organisations underscores a national commitment to increase awareness and understanding of dementia, a condition shrouded in misunderstanding and societal silence. Throughout the nation, initiatives are springing up to encourage open discussions and provide much-needed support to those affected.

Care UK, a prominent name in the healthcare sector, is at the forefront of these efforts with their annual initiative, The Big Dementia Conversation. Aimed at fostering an open dialogue about dementia, the programme has been instrumental in educating the public about the complexity of the condition.

Angela Zuraw, regional director at Care UK, emphasised the importance of their mission: “Here at Care UK, we’re passionate about raising awareness and reducing misconceptions around dementia. It can be challenging to know how best to support your loved one or what not to say – which is why we launched The Big Dementia Conversation to get everyone talking.”

This initiative coincides with the findings from a study showing that nearly three-quarters of British adults feel uninformed about dementia, with a significant majority noting that it is discussed less frequently than other topics like finances or mental health.

Suzanne Mumford, head of nursing, care, and dementia for Care UK, commented on the urgency of the issue: “While much has been done in the way of raising awareness of dementia, there are still a lot of things people don’t know, or aren’t comfortable talking about – especially when it comes to how a person behaves, which is often linked to a change in perception.”

In response to the urgent need for greater awareness and support, Care UK has also set up an online advice hub. This platform explores lesser-known symptoms of dementia and features advice from dementia specialists with over 40 years of experience. The hub is part of a broader effort to make dementia care knowledge more accessible to the public and to encourage active participation in caring for loved ones.

In addition, Dementia UK, another key player in the field, is holding its 14th annual “Time for a Cuppa” fundraiser, aiming to combat the rising number of dementia cases by funding specialist dementia nursing services.

Dr Hilda Hayo, chief admiral nurse and CEO of Dementia UK, stressed the growing need for specialist care: “1 in 2 of us will be affected by dementia in our lifetime. By taking part in Time for a Cuppa, you can help us recruit more admiral nurses, which provide a lifeline to families.”

Throughout Dementia Action Week, Care UK is promoting practical advice for families. Tips for supporting loved ones include involving them in daily tasks to maintain independence, reminiscing about past memories, and maintaining a regular routine to provide reassurance. Encouraging interaction with nature is also suggested to have a calming effect on individuals affected by the condition.

The collective effort by organisations like Care UK and Dementia UK reflects a significant shift towards a more inclusive and supportive approach to dementia care in the UK. However, the challenge remains significant, with many people still unaware of the basic facts about dementia or how to engage with those who suffer from it.

As Dementia Action Week continues, the call to action for the public is clear: get involved, learn more, and start conversations that can lead to a deeper understanding and better support for individuals and families navigating the challenges of dementia. Through initiatives like The Big Dementia Conversation and public engagement events, there is hope that the tide of misunderstanding and stigma surrounding dementia can finally begin to turn.

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