Suffolk: Dementia timebomb ticking with sufferers expected to reach 18,000 by 2025

Tracey Plested, care manager at Sue Ryder

Tracey Plested, care manager at Sue Ryder

A dementia timebomb is set to explode in Suffolk as experts warn in the next 15 years the number of sufferers will double to reach 18,000 amid fears that thousands of people are living with the condition undiagnosed.

Steeped in stigma and widely misunderstood, dementia is often not diagnosed quickly enough.

The Dementia Partnership for Suffolk – run by local charities Age UK Suffolk, Sue Ryder and Suffolk Family Carers – predicts those affected by dementia will rise by 65% for the over 65 age group, from 9,870 in 2008 to an expected 16,327 in 2025, the result of an ageing population.

In that time the partnership, which is funded by Suffolk County Council and the Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, expects to see a rise in people aged 30 to 64 diagnosed with dementia, from 199 to 232.

Launched in September last year, the partnership, aims to increase awareness of dementia to encourage earlier diagnosis and provide support through its network of services.

Tracey Plested, community services manager at the Chantry in Ipswich, one of the care centres run by health and social care charity Sue Ryder, said the aim of the partnership is to share the expertise of the charities to improve services for sufferers and their carers.

She said: “By coming together and sharing knowledge, skills and expertise, we are now in a position to offer a pathway of services for those people affected by dementia and their family carers. And by doing this hopefully will enable people access the right levels of information, support, knowledge and services across Suffolk.”

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Unlike other degenerative conditions, dementia is not always easy to identify at a glance, but Ms Plested said it does not mean a person requires less support than someone suffering a physical disability.

She added: “Early diagnosis can help open up a gateway to information and understanding and more importantly support.”

Louise Burrows, dementia services manager for Age UK Suffolk added: “Isolation, reduced independence, deterioration of physical abilities and loneliness are just some of the challenges faced by people living with dementia.

“In Suffolk, a high proportion of older people diagnosed with dementia live alone or in isolated rural areas, and a number of those are cared for by their partner or an older relative.”

But it is not just sufferers who require support. For those caring for a relative with dementia, the pressures can be extreme.

Sarah Potter, mental health and wellbeing service manager at Suffolk Family Carers said: “Family carers are a forgotten army, providing the invaluable support that enables those they care for to stay at home and live as independently as possible. Support to family carers is essential, our role in the dementia partnership affords us the opportunity to work with family carers and to enable them to plan for their own wellbeing in order to take care of their own needs and continue in their caring role.”

Help is at hand

The Dementia Partnership For Suffolk offer a range of services:

– Dementia helpline – 01473 353350

Anyone concerned about dementia can access advice via the helpline. Trained staff offer a listening ear and emotional support as well as advice about the support available in their local area.

– Advisors

A team of seven dementia advisors work to help those diagnosed with dementia retain their independence for as long as possible. Through home visits and telephone contact they can assess an individual’s needs and tailor information and advice to their situation.

– Community support projects

These projects, in villages across the county, aim to raise dementia awareness to assess the barriers to accessing information and focus on what the specific community needs.

– Support for family carers

A Talk and Support service, family carers wellbeing sessions and caring for dementia with confidence workshops are among the support available for carers.

– Synergy Café

The cafe at Sue Ryder’s The Chantry brings together sufferers and their carers in a relaxed and informal place. There are more than 100 members. A new cafe is set to open in Aldeburgh on June 10 at The Fairfield Centre in Fairfield Road every Monday from 10.30am to 3pm.

– The partnership is supported by a band of dedicated volunteers. If you could spare some of your time or want to find out more please call Momtaz Ali, volunteer coordinator at The Chantry on 01473 295200.