More than 2,000 people are known to be living with dementia in South Tyneside – but the true number could be much higher, campaigners have warned.
The borough has one of the highest rates of the disease in the North East, according to NHS figures.
But members of the South Tyneside Dementia Action Alliance are working to try and make the area one of the best places for people to be able to cope with the condition.
“There are over 2,000 people living with dementia in South Tyneside and that’s a significant number of people,” Mark Overton, the group’s chairman told last week’s (Thursday, January 3) East Shields and Whitburn Community Area Forum (CAF).
“But that’s only maybe a small piece of the picture, there will be people living in South Tyneside who will not have been identified as to their condition yet.
“We want people to stay in their communities and we need to raise awareness and be more inclusive.”
In December (2018), Jarrow followed Hebburn in achieving ‘dementia friendly’ status, where businesses and other organisations have been trained to understand the condition’s symptoms.
This is supposed to help those with the disease remain active in their communities for as long as possible.
Mr Overton added: “we always get this image of someone in the later stages [of dementia], when they need a lot of care.
“But when people get their first diagnosis most people are very active and still want to be out and about in the community.
“They just need a little bit of support to help them get by.”
Last year, after Jarrow became the second town in South Tyneside to achieve its ‘dementia friendly’ status, Mr Overton said the group’s next target was East Shields.
The training is carried out by the Alzheimer’s Society.
The charity provides information and support, funds research, and campaigns to improve care and create lasting change for people affected by dementia.
Visit www.dementiafriends.org.uk for details.
James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service