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A listening ear for people living with dementia and their loved ones in Suffolk on World Alzheimer’s Day 2016

World Alzheimer's Day 2016
World Alzheimer's Day 2016

On World Alzheimer’s Day 2016, Wednesday September 20, healthcare charity Sue Ryder draws attention to Suffolk Dementia Helpline, its free, 24hr helpline for the estimated 12,800 people living with dementia in Suffolk.

Sue Ryder’s Suffolk Dementia Helpline has provided emotional and practical support 24hrs a day, 7 days a week to people living with dementia, their families, friends and health and social care professionals since 2013.

Due to public demand the charity has now instated a Freephone number to ensure more people in Suffolk with questions and concerns about dementia have access to the help they need.

It is thought that just 40-45% of the estimated 12,800 people living with dementia in Suffolk have received a diagnosis and the helpline also supports anyone experiencing confusion or worried about their memory, or with concerns about the health of a family member or friend.

As well as providing confidential, emotional support to callers during what can be a challenging time, the team of highly trained Sue Ryder staff and volunteers who man the 24hr helpline also provide information about dementia and its diagnostic process, along with practical advice about matters such as care in the home and legal and financial support.

The helpline signposts and can refer to other sources of support and organisations across Suffolk, ensuring the best possible support is received.

Mrs Greenwood called the free Suffolk Dementia Helpline when her mother began to show signs of dementia: “Mum had been struggling with her memory for some time. As a family, we made some adjustments to try and support mum, but it became clear that we all needed some help. Initially I called the Suffolk Dementia Helpline to see whether they could suggest anything, having seen an advert.

“The helpline talked through the diagnosis process and we were able to go to mum’s GP and memory clinic to have a diagnosis of Vascular Dementia confirmed.

“This opened up a range of services and help out there and, by calling the helpline, we were able to find out how we could access this help. We had no idea that there were a few groups that actually were running by different organisations on our doorstep in our local area and that they were free to attend and we could meet other people in the same situation as us.

“We have been attending ever since speaking with the helpline. We were also able to start the ball rolling with getting various assessments done, carers come in to help mum now and we were eligible for some financial help too.

“I do continue to call the helpline occasionally now for some practical information, but also sometimes just to have a chat with someone. I know I can call the helpline at any time of the day for someone to talk to about how I am feeling and I always feel listened to. I have even given the number to my family so they can call if they need help in anyway”.

For another caller, receiving a diagnosis raised a range of emotions, such as denial, anger, sadness, and loss. The helpline was there round the clock to talk through their thoughts and feelings. ‘I feel lost - I just can’t believe it’, they said. “You have been so kind; thank you for everything today. I haven’t told my family yet, so knowing I can talk to you has really helped. I will definitely call again, and hopefully soon I will pluck up the courage to talk to my children. Thank you for everything you have done today for me. It has come as such a shock, but you have been wonderful”.

If you are living with dementia or have concerns about your memory, or you are worried about someone you know, the Suffolk Dementia Helpline is here, for free, to help. Open to anyone affected by dementia, including professionals, in any way, call Freephone 08081 688000 or email dementiahelpline.suffolk@sueryder.org, and visit www.sueryder.org/dementiahelpline for more information.

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