Oldham MP’s pledge to make town ‘dementia-friendly’ sees her tell own mum’s moving battle with disease

An Oldham MP has shared her own mother’s struggles with dementia in a bid to encourage understanding of the disease. 

Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, used her moving message to encourage the community to educate themselves on the debilitating disease at a Dementia Friends session.

Abrahams is the only MP to become a Friends of Dementia Champion, and attended the meeting alongside the co-ordinator of the Dementia Partnership Support Team and Dementia Friend Champion, Sue Neilson.

Debbie said: “I remember being with my mother in a supermarket and, as she struggled to cope at the checkout, other shoppers would be dismissive or impatient and that really upset her.

“That sort of reaction actually stopped her going out and added to her depression and sense of isolation. Sadly this is true for many people with dementia.”

Dementia is a progressive brain disease that limits a victim’s ability to think process and recall information.

Oldham currently has 1,700 residents living with dementia, although this is only 67 per cent of the predicted prevalence of dementia for Oldham as many people will not have been diagnosed.

The figure as it stands is expected to rise by two thirds by 2030.

Statistics also indicate that by 2025, over one million people will have been diagnosed with dementia across the UK.

Debbie said: “Dementia is clearly a growing problem, so, if you don’t know somebody with dementia now at some point in the near future you certainly will.”

Oldham Council and NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are supporting a campaign to help people develop a better understanding of dementia and help people to live well with the disease.

The organisations are committed to creating more Dementia Friends across Oldham.

David Cameron launched the ‘Dementia Friends’ initiative last November which aims to recruit more than one million people to assist those living with the disease.

Dementia Friends learn a little bit about what it’s like to live with dementia and can turn that understanding into action.

Sunday 21 is World Alzheimer’s Day and a local target has been set to achieve 500 Dementia Friends in the borough by Christmas.

Alan Higgins, Director of Public Health for Oldham said: “One in three of us over the age of 65 will develop dementia which is an incredibly high amount of people.

“However, people with dementia can live well, and it is the responsibility of the rest of the community to help them do so.

“It is only by personally understanding the issues that people living with dementia face, can we fully appreciate the challenges they have to overcome on a day-to-day basis.”

He added: “By just taking an hour of your time you can play a vital role in helping us create a dementia friendly society.”

Members of the public looking for more information on Dementia Friends are encouraged to visit their website.

Main Image courtesy of Mawoo86, with thanks.

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