My view: Dr Nick Tupper - Raising dementia awareness

Dr Nick Tupper
Dr Nick Tupper
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Did you know that, according to Department of Health research, dementia is the illness most feared by people in England aged over 55?

If so many are worried they might develop dementia, why is the disease treated so lightly and often the trigger for lots of memory loss, ageing and other related jokes?

I Googled ‘dementia jokes’ and the first one that popped up was: ‘The nice thing about being senile is that you can hide your own Easter eggs’.

We wouldn’t joke about cancer in the same way would we?

Yet many people fear that disease as well.

Interestingly, there are cancer jokes on the internet but they are often labelled as ‘sick’, whereas dementia ones are usually seen as ‘humorous’.

Dementia is a condition where there is a progressive decline in memory and the ability to carry out daily activities.

So why joke about it? It’s a rhetorical question. I don’t know the answer but thought it would be worth thinking about.

I’m not in favour of more political correctness as that, arguably, can reduce our opportunity to use humour as a coping strategy for dealing with challenging personal situations.

For example, The Last Leg, Adam Hills’ alternative Paralympics round up on Channel 4, arguably, hit on the right blend of near-the-knuckle humour to break down barriers over disability.

Could we learn from this?

Conversely, don’t people who have a potentially life reducing disease, which dementia is, have a right to be taken seriously by the rest of the population? Tricky isn’t it?

Let’s look at the impact on Doncaster.

Some 3,700 people are thought to be living with dementia but only 2,000 have been diagnosed so far and we expect hundreds of new cases each year.

We’re currently looking at how patients with dementia are treated in hospital and their other care needs as well.

I’m really positive about Doncaster becoming one of the Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friendly communities as that’s a key way to reduce stigma about the disease.

NHS Doncaster CCG and local partners are helping take forward this important local initiative and businesses like Yorkshire Wildlife Park are training their staff to be Dementia Friends, which is another big step forward.

Journalists from this paper are set to join them.

Anyone can become a Dementia Friend.

It’s all about understanding the needs of people with dementia so you can help out if you see someone struggling.

Find out more at Dementia Friends is expected to cost Doncaster £43 million a year in NHS and other costs.

That’s why it’s important to raise public awareness.