Blackpool residents are being encouraged not to bottle up their concerns about dementia by local health chiefs.

If you’re worried that you, or someone close to you, may have dementia, it can be difficult to talk about it. You may feel scared, confused or even ashamed. You may also be hoping that the problem will go away so you don’t have to deal with it. But, talking about it is crucially important.

That is why NHS Blackpool Clinical Commissioning Group is highlighting its ‘How Good Is Your Memory?’ campaign. The campaign which is delivered as part of Altogether Now – a Legacy for Blackpool, the multi-partnership programme between the NHS in Blackpool (Clinical Commissioning Group and Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust), Blackpool Football Club and Blackpool Council, encourages anybody aged between 50-90 who is concerned to speak to their GP about memory screening.

As Altogether Now Health Ambassador for Mental Health and Wellbeing, football legend Jimmy Armfield CBE, is a dedicated supporter of the campaign helping to raise awareness of dementia across the town.

A memory screening test is carried out by trained staff and takes approximately 10 minutes. It includes questions about daily living and mood. Following the test a report is sent directly to your GP who will then review it and contact you to arrange further testing should there be an indication that there may be a deterioration in your memory. These tests are an effective tool to spot signs of dementia.

Blackpool resident, Gordon Halliwell, 88, recently underwent a memory screening test and despite no signs of dementia encouraged a number of his friends to do the same. He said: “To be honest I didn’t really have any concerns about my memory but then I saw a poster in my GP practice waiting area and that encouraged me to take a memory screening test. My memory screening test came back fine with no signs of dementia but I went away and encouraged around ten of my friends to undergo the screening themselves.

“I’d encourage anybody to undergo a memory screening test if they are concerned – getting an early diagnosis is very important. The staff who carried out the test were great, they were very good with me.”

It is estimated that less than half of the people living with dementia in Blackpool have received a formal diagnosis. An early diagnosis can help people with dementia to find the best possible treatment and support meaning that they, and their carers, can plan for the future more easily.

Dementia can’t be cured, but if it is detected early there are ways you can slow it down and maintain mental function. With the right support, many people are able to lead active and fulfilled lives. It is possible to live well with dementia.

Blackpool GP and Chief Clinical Officer of NHS Blackpool Clinical Commissioning Group, Dr Amanda Doyle, added: “We are all living longer and so the probability of our lives being affected by dementia has increased greatly. Whether it is you, a family member or a friend the likelihood is that someone close to you will develop dementia in their life-time.

“If you are concerned about your memory or that of a relative then it is important you speak to your GP. Detecting dementia early is vital to help plan and access the wide range of support available.”

To mark Dementia Awareness Week (17-23 May) a number of events are taking place across Blackpool as follows below. Empowerment team members will be on hand at all of the events to carry out memory screening tests and provide advice on dementia support services.

  • Monday 18 May; an awareness event will be opened at Blackpool Victoria Hospital’s Main Entrance at 12 noon by football legend Jimmy Armfield. Singer Anne Nolan will also be entertaining the crowds with songs from the 1930s and 40s. There will be a wealth of information and stalls at the event including a pop-up museum of 1940s to 1960s memorabilia, arts for health exhibition, dementia workshops as well as vintage afternoon teas and Notarianni’s ice cream.
  • Tuesday 19 May; the Dementia Action Alliance will be holding an information event from 10am – 12.00pm at St. Johns Church, where local residents can find out more about helping to create a dementia friendly Blackpool.
  • Friday 22 May; Dancing with Dementia, Tower Ballroom from 11am-4pm. The event will provide an opportunity to find out more about what dementia is and the range of support services available as well as time to socialise, relax and meet others in a similar situation.

Empowerment regularly stage memory screening clinics within GP surgeries throughout Blackpool, and also visit a variety of community venues across the town too. Home visits can be arranged also if needed.

If you would like to book an appointment or speak to a member of the Empowerment memory screening team in confidence then please call 01253 477959 and select option four.

Notes to editors:

  • Dementia is not a disease but a collection of symptoms that result from damage to the brain. These symptoms can be caused by a number of conditions. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. Common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia include:
    • memory loss, especially problems with memory for recent events, such as forgetting messages, remembering routes or names, and asking questions repetitively
    • increasing difficulties with tasks and activities that require organisation and planning
    • becoming confused in unfamiliar environments
    • difficulty finding the right words
    • difficulty with numbers and/or handling money in shops
    • changes in personality and mood
    • depression
  • Empowerment provides a range of dementia services to people across Blackpool. For more information please click here.

For further information about this press release please call the communications team at NHS Blackpool CCG on 01253 956594.