Speak up if you’ve memory problems, says dementia expert

Katie (left) and Petula Taylor at the dementia awareness event in Garstang
Katie (left) and Petula Taylor at the dementia awareness event in Garstang

Mother and daughter Petula and Katie Taylor brought a special message to Garstang when they set up stall during Dementia Awareness week.

Petula, who works for the Alzheimer’s Society as a Dementia Adviser and Katie, a volunteer with the society, wanted to draw attention to the help and support available for those with dementia and those caring for them.

They set up a stall inside The Fig Tree Fair Trade cafe.

Petula,from Forton, explained: “It’s about raising awareness of dementia. We have a theme of ‘Don’t brush it under the carpet’.”

She said they wanted to encourage people to talk about any aspect of dementia: “If they are worried about their memory – they may have been bottling that up. If they are a carer of someone with dementia – they may feel tired,not know where to go to for support. It’s about encouraging everyone to talk about dementia.

“I think people feel embarrassed about it – there’s still a stigma attached.”

Petula said dementia is an umbrella term which covers Alzheimer’s and all different kinds of dementia.

She stressed early diagnosis is helpful, because in some cases medication can be of benefit: “If they go and see their GP they can always ask the GP to test their memory or be referred to the local memory clinic. They’re fearful of that diagnosis – but with the right support people can live well with dementia and be able to remain independent longer.”

She also revealed that the Alzheimer’s Society – which now has a base in Blackpool, at the Blackpool Centre for Independent Living at 259 Whitegate Drive – is looking for new office premises in the Garstang area.

She added: “We hold dementia cafes, one in Lancaster and one in Morecambe and we’re always looking for places to hold a cafe that isn’t institutionalised, so people with dementia can feel comfortable to socialise like everyone else.”

The Society also organises social singing events. The Singing For The Brain sessions take place at Scotforth, near Lancaster, but places need to be booked for the weekly event.

She said: “Sometimes people can’t remember words and they have difficulty in communication. Singing they remember words to old songs particularly and it can really boost their confidence.”

As for the Garstang visit she said: “It’s been really good. Lots of people came and asked questions.”

The society is also encouraging people, to become Dementia Friends – becoming more aware of dementia and supporting people.

Petula, whose mother had dementia towards the end of her life, added: “It’s just about being kind to people and trying to recognise what they need support in.”

The service has a new local contact number on 01253 695851 and the Alzheimer’s Society national helpline number is 0300 222 1122 (open 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday and at weekends from 10am - to 4pm).