Published: Wednesday, 27th February 2019
A new campaign is letting west Norfolk residents know about the benefits of getting a dementia diagnosis.
West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group and the Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk’s Lily service are teaming up to let local people know why it’s important to get dementia diagnosed as early as possible, and what to do if they have any concerns.
Dr Pallavi Devulapalli, West Norfolk CCG’s lead on dementia, said: “Getting a dementia diagnosis means you can feel the relief of knowing what’s wrong, you can start treatment to slow its progress down, and access support for you and your family. Dementia isn’t a normal part of ageing, and you don’t have to cope with it on your own. If you’re concerned about your memory, make an appointment to see your GP straight away. If you’re concerned about a family member, have a chat with them and encourage them to make an appointment. Your GP is the best place to start – they can rule out other causes of memory problems, talk about your concerns, and then refer you to specialists. Getting a dementia diagnosis is the start of living an independent and active life for longer, not the end of something.”
One family who’ve shared their experience of getting a dementia diagnosis are Carole, her husband Ken, and her daughter Denise. A short film telling their story will be coming soon to the dementia page of the CCG’s website, www.westnorfolkccg.nhs.uk.
Carole’s daughters noticed her memory wasn’t as good as it was, and convinced her to go and see her GP. After talking about her concerns Carole was referred to the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. Under the trust’s care, Carole received her diagnosis of dementia, and was referred to the memory treatment service. She was prescribed medication, and the trust discharged her back to her GP to continue with it. Carole, and Ken and Denise, were then able to access the range of support services available to people living with dementia and their carers.
Carole said “It was helpful coming and getting my diagnosis, and knowing what was going on. Anyone who’s worrying about their memory, you should go and see your doctor, definitely. And talk to the people around you, because you don’t really realise yourself, you think ‘I’m being forgetful, I’m being silly’. Now I’m just living my life here as I want to, doing normal things like gardening, going to the coast, seeing family. I’ve got a large family, and getting my diagnosis helped them accept what was happening”.
Carole’s daughter Denise added: “I went with mum and we saw a Nurse Practitioner and she was wonderful, she listened really carefully to us. It was really hard to take mum, to broach it first of all with her that we thought there might be a problem, but it was definitely worth going because that’s when things got started”. Ken and Denise both advise anyone in a similar situation: “Don’t try and deal with it yourself, go and get the help - because it is there - and make the most of it. We’ve been on five-week carers’ course which was very useful, and a wellbeing course for us”.
Lily, the advice and signposting service for west Norfolk residents, is holding two drop-in events so people can find out about dementia support services in this area. The events will be on Wednesday 6 March at Alive Oasis in Hunstanton, and on Friday 8 March in Broad Street in King’s Lynn. Lily advisors will be on-hand from 10am to 1pm to give advice and answer questions about dementia services. They’ll be joined by staff from the CCG’s prescribing team, from Norfolk and Waveney’s Wellbeing service, from the NSFT team at Chatterton House, and from Alzheimer’s Society.
Judith Berry, Lily Service Manager at the Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk, said: “Our drop-in events are for anyone who wants to find out more about dementia, or about the services that are available for people living with dementia and their families. Come along any time during the day to chat, meet people, and get advice. Or if you can’t make it along, the Lily online directory, www.asklily.org.uk, is a great place to find all the information and services you need.”