Dramatic rise in dementia as numbers set to swell by 10,000 in 20 years

Senior woman and her adult daughter playing cards at home

It is expected that 23,000 people will be living with dementia in Suffolk by 2040 - Credit: PIKSEL/iStock/Getty Images Plus

A growing elderly population will cause the number of dementia sufferers in Suffolk to rise by 10,000 before 2040, it has been predicted.

There are currently 13,000 people in the county with the condition, which causes a decline in brain function and includes illnesses like Alzheimer's.

But Sue Hughes, chairwoman of Suffolk Dementia Forum, and co-chairwoman of a new Dementia Action Partnership set up this week in the county to tackle the problem, said: “With the number of people aged 65 or over likely to grow from the current one in five people to one in three people by 2030, and a prediction that the number of people with dementia will increase to 23,000 by 2040, the time is right to better understand what this means for our county."

Nicola Bradford, acting chairwoman of Ipswich Dementia Action Alliance, said: "The figures show why it is more important to have local services and community groups like the Ipswich Action Alliance, because we want people to still have a choice.

"It's not only for the care sector to have additional places available but also just generally for communities to be aware of the needs of people living with dementia - so people can live well in their own homes if they choose to."

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She added that those supporting people with dementia had "struggled massively" during the coronavirus crisis.

"If they are living in the community, they haven't been able to go into their favourite place for coffee or for lunch," she said.

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"It has changed their routine, so it has been very difficult for people." 

Caroline Manning, from Otley, has been supporting her husband Garry since he was diagnosed with dementia in 2017.

She described caring for someone with the condition as being “lonely and challenging”. 

The couple have been helped by the Debenham Project, which supports Suffolk families dealing with the impact dementia has on their lives.  

Mrs Manning said initially she was reluctant to reach out for help - but said: “We were greeted into the project with warmth and understanding at a time when were both feeling fragile.

"It was just what we needed. 

Caroline and Garry Manning at the Suffolk Show in 2018

Caroline and Garry Manning at the Suffolk Show in 2018 - Credit: CAROLINE MANNING

“Garry immediately connected with one of the volunteers and seeing them laugh together was magical. 

“Lack of sleep and keeping your loved one safe and occupied takes a lot of patience and energy.  

“The care is 24/7 with very little time to yourself, so knowing that you have a good support network consisting of friends, volunteers and different agencies is very important.”  

This week is Dementia Action Week, designed to raise awareness about the condition.

As part of the week's activities, Ipswich Dementia Action's 'Singing for the Brain' choir will  perform in the grounds of Bucklesham Grange Care Home on Wednesday afternoon. 

There will also be an information stall on Ipswich Cornhill on Friday between 10am and 2pm.  

Mrs Hughes added: “Remembering this affects younger people too, and that many in our lovely county live in rural isolation, it is time to all we can to better understand the illness and support all living with these challenges."

How can you help? 

If you are interested in volunteering for Ipswich Dementia Action you can contact them by emailing ipswichdementia@gmail.com or via its Facebook page.

You are also able to contact the Debenham Project via Facebook or by visiting its website. 

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