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How Norwich club has helped Leonard

PUBLISHED: 17:32 10 March 2010 | UPDATED: 08:44 02 July 2010

Leonard, who suffers from dementia, with his wife Evelyn.

Leonard, who suffers from dementia, with his wife Evelyn.

Matthew Sparkes

A third of people are not comfortable around those suffering with dementia, reveals a new survey.

Research by the Alzheimer's Society shows more than half the population also do not know enough about dementia to care for someone with the illness.

A third of people are not comfortable around those suffering with dementia, reveals a new survey.

Research by the Alzheimer's Society shows more than half the population also do not know enough about dementia to care for someone with the illness.

The society has launched a new campaign in an effort to end discrimination towards dementia sufferers and to inform people of the positive role they can have in society.

The campaign will include television and radio adverts and attempt to show that people diagnosed with dementia can still lead active lives if they are given the right support.

Ruth Sutherland, acting chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society, said: “People with dementia tell us that, once diagnosed, others begin to act differently or avoid them altogether.”

“This has a huge impact on their lives, but we know that with the right support people can continue to enjoy a good quality of life.”

“One in three people over 65 will develop dementia so it is vital we all understand how to better support those living with the condition.”

The survey, which questioned 1,700 adults, also showed that more than four in five thought that sufferers could still take part in normal activities.

More than 700,000 people in the UK are currently living with some form of dementia, and this figure is expected to rise to a million within two decades.

Age Concern Norfolk runs Pabulum Cafes in Costessey, Diss, Wymondham and Horstead, which are designed to support people with dementia as well as their carers.

Eamon McGrath, community development manager at Age Concern Norfolk, said: “Older people should be treated with dignity and respect whatever their illness, condition or disability.”

“People with dementia can continue to live independent and fulfilling lives with the right support. They enjoy the same sort of human contact and relationships as the rest of society.”

“Would people suggest that Terry Pratchett is not able to contribute even though he has been quite open about his diagnosis?”

Leonard, from Norwich, was diagnosed with dementia nine years ago, but at 84 he still leads a fulfilling life with his wife in Norwich.

A retired electrical engineer and former secretary of a local jazz club, Leonard regularly attends a Pabulum Café organised by Age Concern Norfolk.

These events are organised specially for dementia sufferers and their carers, and help him to maintain his independence.

But they also give his wife, Evelyn, a chance to talk to other carers in the same situation.

Evelyn, who has been married to Leonard for 58 years, said: “You get little tips on how to cope, and what to do in certain circumstances.”

She said that she sometimes gets angry at their situation, but tries to keep positive and “turn to laughter” to help her cope.

“When some of our old favourites come on the radio, Leonard will say, 'do you remember this one?', and we'll have a little jig around the kitchen,” she said.

Recently Leonard asked who Evelyn was, and she had to tell him that she was his wife.

“You can't be, you look like a senior citizen,” he said. She replied: “Yes, Leonard, and you're my toy boy.”

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