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We need to help people with dementia more, say university researchers

University of Suffolk Waterfront building, Ipswich Waterfront

University of Suffolk Waterfront building, Ipswich Waterfront

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Communities have been urged to do more to help rising numbers of people with dementia ahead of a Suffolk conference on one of the county’s growing health challenges.

The University of Suffolk will today (Saturday, November 10) stage its Movement and Memories Exploring Perceptions of Dementia conference at its Ipswich Waterfront site.

The day-long event, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), is designed to show the difference the arts can make in supporting people living with the condition.

University of Suffolk research associate Katie Tyrrell, who has helped organise the event, said the organisation had embraced supporting people with dementia, because so many staff and students look after relatives affected by it.

And she encouraged other community groups and organisations to help in the same way to tackle the problem.

“Dementia has been on the agenda for us for quite a long time,” she said.

“Because Suffolk has quite an ageing population, we feel that we should be helping the community and getting public engagement for something that is so important.

“Arts for people with dementia is really important, as there are more people living with dementia.

“Within communities, it’s really important to have activities and services that provide things for people who might not be able to access those things in the care setting.

“We need more services and provision to help that.”

The event is aimed at carers, practitioners, researchers, those living with dementia and members of public.

At the heart of the day will be a performance by the internationally acclaimed physical theatre company Gecko, which will draw on the experiences of those living with dementia and carers.

There will be “living with dementia” talks and personal experiences, themed music and video and a presentation of the results from the evaluation of the Sue Ryder Dementia Together service.

The number of older people living with dementia in Suffolk is expected to almost double to nearly 20,000 over the next 15 years or so.

University of Suffolk students are also encouraged to become “dementia friends”, where they learn about the best ways of supporting people with the condition.

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