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Busting myths and raising awareness of dementia

Dementia awareness picOur officers have been out and about raising awareness of dementia and how it can affect people while also busting some myths about the disease.

This has been in support of Dementia Awareness Week which began on 15 May and is run by The Alzheimer’s Society with the aim of encouraging those who are worried about dementia to confront it directly.

About 850,000 people in the UK have dementia, a figure which is expected to rise to one million in fewer than 10 years.

Through our work in the communities across Avon and Somerset, our force regularly comes into contact with people with dementia and their families. That is why we are supporting this awareness week.

Showing our support

A group of 13 serving and retired police officers from North Somerset took on a daring 40m abseil down Uphill quarry to raise money for The Alzheimer’s Society. Organised by retired officer Jon Yabsley, the team also included PC Karen Stenner who is based in Nailsea. The team originally aimed to raise £10,000 but has already topped £11,000.

PC Stenner said: “We have all got someone close to us who has been affected by dementia in some way which is why we were all keen to take part.

“We also come into contact with people with dementia and their families a lot with our job.”

To show your support for the team you can still donate to The Alzheimer’s Society here.

Abseil team   Karen abseil

In Somerset, officers from the Mendip Neighbourhood team have been delivering sessions across the area to raise awareness of dementia and how communities can become more ‘dementia friendly’.

In November, members of the team became Dementia Friends Champions after taking part in a course run by The Alzheimer’s Society. This equipped them with the knowledge to better support those affected by dementia but also to deliver information sessions to recruit more Dementia Friends.

Inspector Mark Nicholson said: “Being a Dementia Friend is about taking little actions such as to behave patiently with someone showing signs of dementia, spending more time with a relative affected by dementia, fundraising or generally raising awareness.

“Since being a champion I have conducted eight sessions across Mendip with community groups such as Neighbourhood Watch and parish councils, making 160 people more aware.

“Wells City is also in the process of becoming a Dementia Friendly City. Being the Neighbourhood Manager has meant I have been able to assist with this.

“It is an aspect of my work I find both meaningful and fulfilling while also allowing the public to see the organisation from a different angle.” 

Police cadets in Portishead have also been learning about dementia this week during a session with PCSO Caroline Harris. This was aimed at educating them about how dementia can affect a person, their behaviour and also their loved ones. It has also resulted in 20 new Dementia Friends being recruited. 

To learn more about dementia, how to become a Dementia Friend and also about the support available to those affected take a look at The Alzheimer’s Society website.

Dementia facts

  • Dementia doesn’t just affect older people – over 40,000 younger people in the UK have early-onset or young-onset dementia. 
  • About 850,000 people in the UK have dementia. 
  • One in 14 people over 65 – and one in six people over 80, has dementia. 
  • Dementia is more common among women than men.