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21 September 2022

World Alzheimer's Day: Living Well With Dementia in Newham

Staff, service users and carers from Newham's Community Services & Mental Health Care for Older People (MHCOP) describe how a diagnosis of dementia does not mean a life lived without happiness, joy and connectivity.

Today is World Alzheimer's Day. Alzheimer's is the most common cause of dementia in the UK, with over 850,000 people and families living with dementia.

The UK has an ageing population, and diagnoses of dementia are likely to continue increasing. 

A diagnosis of dementia can be a cause of great anxiety for people, families and carers, but in the latest #ELFTVIdeoNewsLive service users, carers and staff from Newham's Community Services & Mental Health Care for Older People (MHCOP) explain that people can live a live well, with happiness, creativity and joy.

Patrisha, who lives in East Ham, describes what matters to her as someone living with dementia. Patrisha helped inspire Consultant Clinical Psychologist Dr Michelle Hamill and Principal Clinical Psychologist Dr Martina McCarthy to write a book that aims to support people living with dementia, their families and carers.

Patrisha has Progressive Supranuclear Palsy - a rare neurological condition that causes dementia.

Dr Hamill says: 

"Dementia awareness month offers the opportunity to tell a different story about dementia. 

"Whilst there can be a lot of fear and understandable worry when a diagnosis of dementia is received, there is so much that can be done to help people.

By working with what dementia brings instead of fighting against it, and through focusing on each individual's uniqueness and strengths, it is possible to live well with dementia. 

"Focusing on what's within our control is the first step! 

"Whilst everyone’s experiences and situations are unique, there are many opportunities to improve quality of life for people and their carers.  

"Experiencing dementia is hard enough but it is made so much harder by the stigma surrounding it.  

"We can all make a difference to the lives of people with dementia and their carers by valuing the uniqueness of each individual, honouring their rich life stories and supporting their hopes, dreams, and fears. 

"Marrying psychological ideas with real life examples of the people we know and have worked alongside, we have been able to show in the book that people can live well with dementia, with meaningful relationships and joy. 

"Their stories embody hope, positivity and creativity; words we don't often hear alongside dementia. It's time to tell a different story. 

"Together we can work to challenge the stigma of dementia and build a more humane and inclusive world for everyone to live in."