Young dementia network starts in Suffolk
17 February 2019, 08:37 | Updated: 17 February 2019, 09:08
Suffolk Mind is launching a new peer support group to help people who have traits or a diagnosis of young onset dementia.
The Suffolk Young Dementia Network comes off the back of a 6 month service launched by Suffolk Mind last summer, for people aged between 30 and 65 who are living with dementia in Suffolk.
Figures suggest that those who live with the condition may be up to 6-9% of all people with dementia. Overall in Suffolk, it is estimated that 12,800 people are living with dementia.
The group will be based in different areas of Suffolk on a monthly basis and is a gathering point for younger people with dementia and their carers to offer support to each other.
Peter Berry, who will be using the Suffolk Young Dementia Network, was diagnosed with dementia when he was 50 years old.
“When I was told I had dementia, I didn’t think it was going to be that bad and I thought I could deal with it," he said.
"However, when you get home and think about the enormity of what the future will hold, it lays heavy on your shoulders. I got very depressed and down about it, in the first 12 months, me and my wife hardly told anybody, I felt embarrassed.
“One of the key things that I and so many other people in my position lack is peer support; having some sort of network with people in the same age group is very important. Peer support networks don’t just help people with dementia, it can actually save lives. It can save people from depression; it can save families and give people a sense of worth. It gives people something to look forward to and for some it can be a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Peter’s wife Teresa Berry said: “This has been something that we’ve wanted for so long – I have never met a single person in Suffolk in the same boat as we are – it’s so isolating. To have a group that will hopefully grow and spread would be wonderful”.
The launch of the Suffolk Young Dementia Network is being held at DanceEast in Ipswich today (Sunday 17th February), 11am – 1pm.
Sue Gray, Suffolk Young Dementia Network Co-ordinator said: “When you are younger than the perceived age to ‘get’ dementia it’s frightening to go to the doctor and explore why your memory and planning abilities seem to be changing – and then possibly being told that you have Dementia. Dementia is a life changing condition at any age but when you are young it is all the more difficult to take in and adjust to.
“We want people to be able to meet others in a similar situation – either face to face, via email or over the phone, and be able to exchange support and information.”