Dementia Awareness Week
This week is Dementia Awareness Week in Scotland and as part of this Elizabeth Sparks and Jo Downie had the opportunity to attend Alzheimer Scotland’s Annual Conference. The conference brings together people living with dementia, their carers and families, as well as a wide range of professionals, looking at all aspects of dementia care – medical, technological, legal, practical, emotional, social. It was uplifting to hear the Dementia Choir opening the conference with their rendition of ‘We’ll get by with a little help from our friends’.
Jo and Elizabeth heard many interesting speakers, including Clare Haughey MSP, Minister for Mental Health, R.T. Hon Henry McLeish, Professor Craig Ritchie Director of the Centre for Dementia Prevention and Prof of Psychiatry of Ageing, University of Edinburgh, all involved in working towards improving the lives of people living with dementia.
This year’s key theme was ‘Prevent now – Care today – Cure tomorrow’ – the emphasis was very much on prevention and overall brain health. Scotland is at the forefront of research into potential future cures for dementia, but we are not there yet, it is a very complex area with over 100 different diseases.
However, the message is that we can all do things now to improve our mental health and reduce our risk of disease - simple changes to lifestyles, including cardio exercise (get that heart pumping, and blood flowing!), eating a healthy Mediterranean-style diet, stopping smoking and keeping your brain active! Taking part in social activities as well as music, art, and social activities are all very important too and play a big part in maintaining good mental health.
The conference was a big success, generating a lot of lively discussion Jo and Elizabeth, amongst the hundreds of other attendees, were inspired by the positive messages of what we can do now and what we might achieve in the future.