Norfolk

All at sea with dementia

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Written by Shaun Lowthorpe

Why coastal towns such as Great Yarmouth have particular issues with dementia – and the man who wants to do something about it

Here’s something I didn’t know – apparently coastal towns face their own challenges around people living with dementia.  That is because typically the population tends to be older, and secondly a large proportion of those people live on their own.

These are factors which, in part, explain Trevor Edwards’s 12-month mission to work with the community in Great Yarmouth – and top of his list of priorities is finding someone to chair the newly formed Great Yarmouth Dementia Action Alliance.

Trevor, a Business Connector for the charity Business in the Community, is on a secondment from his day job working for DWP in Lowestoft.  “I was approached by the Alzheimer’s Society to see if I would help set up a Dementia Action Alliance in the town,” he explains. “Great Yarmouth has particular issues because of ageing population. In fact, 51% of people who have dementia live in the community.”

He also points to a link between alcohol abuse and the condition, which means it can also be found among those struggling with drink problems and living rough, a situation not uncommon in a town rated the 20th worst area of deprivation in the country.

Trevor, who is 54, has three goals:

  1. to find a volunteer willing to chair the new group, preferably someone with business experience;
  2. to encourage businesses to make their staff and workplaces dementia friendly
  3. to support those living with the condition in the town.

“It’s about supporting people to live in the community independently for as long as possible,” he says. A third of us during our lifetime will care for someone who has dementia, and with a growing ageing population, that is only going to increase.”

To start with the new group is looking to concentrate its efforts on the Caister-On-Sea area, building on a number of projects which are already underway. “For me it’s about getting out and speaking to as many businesses as possible and saying ‘this is important’. “My mother-in-law who lives in the area has got vascular dementia, so this quite personal to me, which is why I was keen to get involved.  “I am secondment for a year and this is about getting the group up and running and getting them to take if forward.”

Trevor says they are looking for someone who can devote up to 20 days towards the group to run it – take minutes, and update its website, as well as someone who can chair it, may be someone with a business background looking with time to commit to the voluntary role.  “The idea is for the group to have four meetings a year and develop an action plan to move forward,” he says.  “The fact is that about a third of us have contact with someone with someone with dementia, so there a lot of people out there with first hand experience, and that emotive tie.

*If you want to find out more then contact Trevor on 07584 602555 or email trevor.edwards@bitcconnect.org

Great Yarmouth & Waveney Dementia facts:

2300 – the number of people in the area diagnosed with dementia

3600 – the number of people with dementia both diagnosed and undiagnosed

1/6 of households are single occupancy

1/14 of people over 65 will have dementia

(figures supplied by Trevor Edwards citing James Paget NHS University Hospitals Foundation Trust)

About the author

Shaun Lowthorpe