Norfolk dementia researchers need you

Hands on the memory books at the first Harleston and District Dementia Friendly Community Cafe. PICT

Hands on the memory books at the first Harleston and District Dementia Friendly Community Cafe. PICTURE: Denise Bradley - Credit: Archant

It's good news that mental health is gaining a higher profile with the likes of the recent Mental Health Awareness Week 2017 last week from 8 to 14 May co-ordinated by the Mental Health Foundation.

Celebrity actors, presenters, pop stars and sportsmen alike used their fame productively by coming forward and talking about how they struggle with or have overcome mental illness. By discussing their own mental illness they reached out to the public helping to reduce the stigma. The aim is that by relating to celebrities who talk openly about mental illness we can gain a better understanding of how it can affect anyone, at anytime, from any walk of life.

Even the younger members of the royal family Prince William and Prince Harry were filmed talking openly about the effects of their mother Princess Diana's tragic death when they were young children impacted on their mental health, disclosing their hidden grief and need for counselling.

Following on from Mental Health Awareness week 2017 last week, on Sunday the Alzheimer's society launched its Dementia Awareness week 2017 this week from 14 May to 20 May with various events being held all over England, including Norfolk throughout the week, which is excellent news.

Through initiatives like Dementia Awareness Week 2017, dementia is becoming more widely publicised and a greater number of people now have at least gained some knowledge on how it effects those who have dementia and their families.

However, it continues to astound me that research into dementia is not widely publicised, hopefully events this week will help.

In my opinion dementia research needs a higher profile as, after all, it is the key to learning more about the cause, effects and treatments for people living with dementia.

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Dementia research is underfunded in Great Britain compared to many other health conditions like cancer and heart disease and without more funding and awareness for dementia research it will inevitably take much longer to find answers.

Because that's what dementia research does, it finds answers and best evidence for dementia care and treatment, aiming to inform how to live better and for longer. Dementia research provides evidence how best to care for a person with dementia too and of course it can also establish what doesn't work or isn't helpful.

Here in Norfolk we have dementia research teams based locally at the Julian Hospital and at the UEA in Norwich.

These research teams are made up of members of the medical profession, nurses, occupational therapists, doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists. They are actively working on national, international and local dementia research studies.

Our dementia research teams are always seeking more participants and especially want anyone who has a diagnosis of dementia at any stage and their families to participate as they need more people to come forward.

I expect people with dementia and their families have too much to cope with without any extra commitments, plus the very word 'research' conjures up all sorts of concerns and fears.

However, in reality being a volunteer for dementia research is quite the opposite, and is a positive experience where participants feel useful, valued and well looked after. People feel rewarded in knowing the information they can provide can help others.

Many of the research trials involve just answering some questions, within your own home, where you will always be treated with the greatest respect and can stop at anytime.

To speak to someone about dementia research locally, contact the dementia research nurses at The Julian Hospital Norwich on 01603 421882 and they will be happy to chat with you, or go online to the 'join dementia research' website at