There are 2,526 good reasons why each and everyone one of us in Tameside should get involved in Dementia Awareness Week, which runs from 18th-24th May.
I say this because that is the number of people estimated to be currently living with Dementia in Tameside.
One in three people over the age of 65 will develop dementia, and as a local MP, all too often I see first-hand the devastating impact the condition has - not only the person with dementia but their family, friends and carers too.
The fact that there are more and more people in Tameside who are living with dementia puts into perspective why there is a duty on us all and society as a whole to act.
Across the UK, on average less than half of those people have received a diagnosis. Diagnosis is the key that unlocks access to support services. There are many reasons why people may be afraid to ask their GP for a diagnosis.
They may feel scared, confused or even ashamed. But the sooner they know what they're dealing with, the sooner they can get on with their life and feel in control again.
That’s why Alzheimer’s Society – the charity behind Dementia Awareness Week – is using the week to encourage people to 'open up' and talk. They want anyone who is concerned to talk to their doctor, their family, but also to come and talk to Alzheimer's Society.
This year, Dementia Awareness Week coincides with the European and local elections. But as a condition impacting on so many – which research has shown people fear more than any other illness – it is vital that dementia is tackled from both sides of the House of Commons and by people from all walks of life and all ages in my constituency.
Yesterday I met with local illustrator and author, Tony Husband to discuss his new book, which was inspired by his father’s battle with dementia which he is using to raise awareness of the issue throughout Dementia Awareness Week.
Speaking about his book, Tony said, “The book came from me one night trying to understand what we as a family, and of course my dad, had gone through over the last few years with his dementia.”
“What started as a few rough scribbles about me talking to my dad became the book, ‘Take Care Son...’”
“It seems to have touched many people, and perhaps my dad’s sad journey will be able to help others understand it a bit more”
Tony’s story, and the stories of the thousands of others who have been affected by dementia, will no doubt touch us all. That is why this week I’m doing my bit for Dementia Awareness Week, and why I’m challenging readers to do the same.