Dementia Action Week, organised by Alzheimer’s Society, is an opportunity to raise awareness of dementia through a series of activities, events and training opportunities. 

This year, Dementia Action Week runs from Monday 13 – Sunday 19 May, and in Suffolk there will be all sorts of opportunities to get involved, to find out more about dementia and to help raise awareness.

East Anglian Daily Times: Jo Reeder talks about Dementia Action Week in SuffolkJo Reeder talks about Dementia Action Week in Suffolk (Image: Contributed)

The challenge always, and particularly in Suffolk, is that some areas have fantastic opportunities to get involved or access support, and other areas may not offer the same, or even anything at all. 

What is important however is that wherever you live in Suffolk, if you are concerned about yours or someone else’s memory or behaviour, that you know who to contact. 

Dementia Connect is the Suffolk dementia service, delivered by Alzheimer’s Society, which can offer families information and support at any stage of their dementia journey. 

They can also signpost you to other organisations who may be able to help, and you don’t have to wait for a diagnosis to access the service.

East Anglian Daily Times: Ipswich Dementia Action Alliance cafeIpswich Dementia Action Alliance cafe (Image: Ipswich Dementia Action Alliance)

It is important to remember that dementia is not “new” – and is an umbrella term used for a range of progressive conditions that affect the brain. 

There are many different forms of dementia – with Alzheimer's disease being the most common and talked about. 

It is also important to remember that everyone’s “dementia journey” is their own, and much like us as people, all dementias are different.

Whilst there is no escaping that dementia can be extremely stressful, upsetting and challenging for families, it is also important to remember that with the right support and early diagnosis, many people “live well” with dementia for many years. 

This is a message that the newly formed Suffolk Dementia Community Network are keen to share – focusing on the positives of building support networks across Suffolk, delivering activities and groups and, where possible, lobbying and championing early diagnosis. 

It is so important to offer support locally – within the community – and personally.

East Anglian Daily Times: Check out the support groups available in your areaCheck out the support groups available in your area (Image: Ipswich Dementia Action Alliance)

Over recent years some very successful community dementia support groups have developed in communities across Suffolk, offering advice and information, peer groups, signposting, lunch clubs, social events, exercise and well-being, activities, transport and post-diagnosis support.

However, across the breadth of Suffolk, the number is small compared to the need. The aim must be for this type of support  to be accessible in every community of any size. If you live in an area where community dementia support is limited or seems non existent, and would like to find out more about how you could set up a community group, the Suffolk Dementia Community Network would be delighted to chat to you. 

Who are the Suffolk Dementia Community Network?
They are a group of individuals and organisations who work across Suffolk to promote the ability and need to live well with dementia. They focus on working with families to navigate the support available in the county and encourage dementia friendly initiatives and dementia friendly towns and villages to create a network of trusted support across Suffolk. Formed with representatives from community groups, care organisations and charities, this newly formed group are passionate about keeping the dementia conversation in people’s minds and doing everything possible to support people affected and their families. 

The Suffolk Dementia Strategy
The Suffolk countywide co-produced Dementia Strategy has been jointly commissioned by Suffolk County Council and Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care Board with the vision to create a society without stigma, where people with dementia feel safe in the knowledge that responsive services are based on an understanding of their needs and empowered to access information, advice, guidance, and support which is readily available whenever they or their families need it. The Suffolk Dementia Strategy has been heavily informed by the Healthwatch Suffolk Dementia Report A roundabout without signposts’: People’s experiences of dementia in Suffolk - Healthwatch Suffolk, which was commissioned to find out the experiences of people living with dementia and their carers in accessing and receiving support. 

Useful facts about Dementia
Dementia is a scary word, but with the right support, education and awareness, we can all help to make things better for people and families living with the disease.

Did you know?

  • There are over 100 different types of dementia. The most common form is Alzheimer's Disease but there are many other dementias and all have different symptoms and challenges
  • Parkinson’s Disease is a form of dementia
  • Dementia doesn’t just affect people in later life. Early onset dementia is a term used for anyone diagnosed with dementia that is under the age of 60.
  • You can live well with dementia with the right support and a an early diagnosis. There are lots of ways of keeping well with dementia, including keeping your brain and body active
  • There is no effective treatment that stops dementia and it’s progression. However healthy lifestyle and keeping your brain active can reduce the risk

The Suffolk Young Ones
The Suffolk Carers Fund, through Suffolk Community Foundation, have funded a new project, delivered by Communities Together East Anglia on behalf of the Stowmarket Dementia Community Group, Red Gables to create a club to support families living with early onset dementia. Join an online “Catch Up & Chat” on Tuesday May 14 from 6pm – 8pm on zoom.
To register visit Suffolk Young Ones - Catch Up & Chat Tickets, Tue, May 14, 2024 at 6:00 PM | Eventbrite

Useful Contacts

  • Care UK (Angela Hodge) 01379 888235
  • Communities Together East Anglia 01449 707030
  • Dementia Connect (Alzheimer's Society) 0333 1503456
  • Halesworth Dementia Carers Fund
  • Home Instead
  • Ipswich Dementia Action Alliance 07969 262404
  • Stowmarket Dementia Community Group 01449 673947
  • Suffolk Dementia Community Network01449 707030/
  • Suffolk Family Carers 01473 835477
  • The Debenham Project 01728 862003

Don't miss
The Suffolk Dementia Marketplace will take place on Thursday 13 June from 10am – 4pm at Trinity Park, Ipswich. This event, organised by Suffolk County Council and Care Development East is a fantastic opportunity to speak to organisations that may be able to support you or someone you know on their dementia journey. To register free, visit Dementia Marketplace 2024 Tickets, Thu 13 Jun 2024 at 10:00 | Eventbrite