Dementia Action Week 2021 is taking place between 17 - 23 May. Led by the Alzheimer’s Society, the national event sees the public come together and take action to improve the lives of people affected by dementia. This Dementia Action Week we're sharing advice on what to do if you think you or a loved one might have dementia, how to manage it if you have been diagnosed and the support services available to you. 

If you are concerned about yourself 

If you are worried about your memory and it is affecting how you live your life, please speak to your GP. They can arrange for some tests to rule out other medical conditions which may be treatable. You may be referred to the memory clinic.

A diagnosis will allow you to access medication, which may help with the symptoms of dementia or slow down the progression of dementia. It will also allow you to access support services from the Alzheimer’s Society, Link Age Southwark and other support networks.

You can find more information on memory loss and dementia on the Alzheimer’s Society website or you can phone their Dementia Connect helpline on 0333 150 3456 to speak to their helpful advisers. 

If you are concerned about someone you know 

Encourage them to talkseek advice or medical help. As above, they may have a treatable medical condition rather than dementia. Continue to be a good support by encouraging them to carry on with their activities or take up new ones. 

Put yourself in their shoes – no one wants to hear they might have dementia but talking about it positively and practically might help. Once the initial shock of diagnosis has lessened, steps can be put in place to ensure that life remains positive and enjoyable.

If you already live with dementia 

It is important to stay healthy to live as well as you can with dementia. A good diet combined with exercise will help keep your heart and brain healthy. Hearing issues unresolved by hearing aids can increase the chance of dementia, so do get regular hearing tests as well as eye tests. Try to get outdoors as much as possible too, as anytime spent in nature is beneficial for your wellbeing and overall health. 

Try activities that challenge the brain such as drawing with your non-dominant hand, playing Scrabble or Sudoku, and doing crossword puzzles. Balancing, dancing and catching balls are also good brain and body exercises. 

Re-train yourself in how to do things. If you have difficulty with sequencing, then break down tasks so you can continue to be independent. Don’t give up, get help to carry on. If you are given the tools to continue with regular everyday tasks then you will feel empowered and remain confident in your own abilities. People may be kind and offer to complete tasks ‘for you’ but it is better if they complete tasks ‘with you’, as ‘doing for’ can lead to you becoming de-skilled and reliant on others.

Stay active, involved, and sociable where possible. We know it has been especially difficult to do this over the last year, so Link Age Southwark have a number of online groups designed for people living with dementia can access from home.

View our dementia-specific groups

As well as continuing our online groups, we are looking forward to starting up our usual face-to-face groups later in the year, in line with Government guidelines. We will let you know when these resume and hope to see old friends and new faces alike. 

Try something new

Getting out and about 

Being outside in nature is important to everyone, and especially for people living with dementia. Research shows that it can improve sleep, concentration, appetite and communication skills. It can also slow the increase of symptoms and prevent the onset of dementia. 

There are a number of outdoor dementia services available in the community, such as Froglife's Wild Times and a Walking Sports Club in Rotherhithe. If you would like more information about these services, please email us at [email protected]

Get involved in dementia research 

A great deal of research is going on to develop medication to help slow down the progression of dementia and, it is hoped, one day to stop it developing altogether. You can register to join a dementia research study or speak to your local memory clinic: 

You can also take part in a survey about living with dementia in London to help make it a more dementia-friendly city. Access the survey online, or call us on 0208 299 2623 to speak to Nicky or Saira from our dementia team who can help you complete it. 

Be inspired by... 

  • Wendy Mitchell: Diagnosed with dementia at 58, Wendy has written an account of her life, Somebody I Used To Know, and continues to be involved in delivering dementia support services in Yorkshire.

  • Keith Oliver: A headteacher for over 30 years Keith was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at 55 years old in 2010. Keith speaks at conferences, has a public profile as an ambassador for dementia, and last year kept mentally and physically busy by gardening with his wife.  In 2020 he teamed up with The University of Canterbury to bring students and people living with dementia together for a poetry project. The project resulted in the book Time and Place published by DEEP, The UK Network of Dementia Voices, and is an interesting anthology of poetry which might inspire you to have a go yourself. 

  • Peter Berry: Diagnosed with young-onset dementia at just 50, Peter is a cycling fanatic. He undertook various challenges by bike with a new friend, Deb Bunt, with whom he co-wrote the book Slow Puncture: Living well with dementia. It is an uplifting yet realistic account of how to squeeze every bit of happiness out of life whilst living with the challenges of dementia. 

Get involved in campaigns 

The Alzheimer’s Society's campaign, 'Cure The Care System', calls on the Government to provide free and easily accessible social care for people living with dementia and their loved ones. During Dementia Action Week this year, the Alzheimer’s Society is urging the government to reform social care now. You can sign the petition here.

Lasting Power of Attorney 

Dementia Action Week is a good time to consider the benefits of making a Lasting power of attorney. If you become unable to look after your own finances or your health, a trusted attorney who knows you can act on your behalf. 

Dementia Friends Information Sessions 

Dementia Friends is an initiative that aims to increase understanding of dementia and inspire people to take action to support people affected by dementia in their community. If you would like to have a better understanding of dementiayou are welcome join us at one of our online Dementia Friends Information Sessions. We will also be starting up in-person sessions in due course, in line with Government guidelines.

Our next online Dementia Friends Information Session takes places during Dementia Action Week, on Thursday 20 May at midday. If you would like to join this session please email us at [email protected] or sign up on the Dementia Friends website.

In other news...

We are delighted to announce that we have been awarded a grant from the Paul and Nick Harvey Fund, which supports Music for Dementia. 

Our weekly singing group, Musical Memories run by our trained leader Sandra, is for people living with dementia and their carers. Before the pandemic, the group met in an assisted living facility, and we have been able to continue online using Zoom ever since March 2020. The grant will go towards the cost of running the group when we can meet up in-person once more, including transportation costs for our participants who need support getting out and about.

Receiving this grant guarantees that the group can continue singing for another year, which is something we are very all excited about!

If you would like a chat with a member of our dementia team, please call the office on 020 8299 2623 or email: [email protected] or [email protected]