Oldham MP becomes first Dementia Friends Champion – drawing on mum’s own battle with Alzheimer’s disease

An Oldham MP has become the first parliamentary champion for those suffering from dementia.

Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, was trained by the Alzheimer’s Society to become a Dementia Friends Champion.

The move is part of an initiative aiming to sign up 1million Dementia Friends by 2015

Ms Abrahams was convinced communities across the country need to adapt to the requirements of dementia sufferers and their carers after her mum was diagnosed with the condition.

She said: “When a loved one is diagnosed with dementia, very few of us are in a position to immediately know how to provide the best care for them and help them adjust.

“In effect we just cope the best we can, learning along the way, and that was certainly true for me and my family when my mum was diagnosed.”

Ms Abrahams has pinpointed creating a dementia-friendly Oldham as one of her top 10 constituency priorities.

In her role as a Champion, she will play a key role in providing information sessions for the Friends and tackling the stigma of a dementia diagnosis is one of her main goals.

Ms Abrahams was ‘inspired’ by the training received and will host a parliamentary information session in June as well as one in Oldham.

Helen Morris, Services Manager for Greater Manchester Dementia Friendly Communities, said: “It’s great to have Debbie on board as a fellow Dementia Friends Champion as we must all do more than just talk about creating dementia-friendly communities; we must actively take part in the process.

“The aim of our work is to reduce feelings of isolation and increasing the confidence of people living with dementia and allow them to live their lives fully, knowing they will be met with understanding and respect.”

Ms Abrahams will also be running in the Bupa Great Manchester Run later this month, and is taking donations here.

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