Suffolk Coastal and Clacton among areas hardest hit by dementia in UK
PUBLISHED: 06:00 12 October 2017 | UPDATED: 07:42 12 October 2017
Suffolk Coastal and Clacton are among areas hardest hit by dementia in the UK, according to new figures released today.
The statistics, from Alzheimer’s Research UK, were revealed in two interactive maps – with the east being one of the worst areas for those affected by the condition.
Suffolk Coastal was shown to be the area hardest hit by dementia in the region and was ranked eighth out of 650 constituencies in the UK – with 2,220 people living with the condition.
Clacton was ranked 11th in the country for dementia sufferers, and was in the top five of constituencies in the country with the highest prevalence of dementia per head of population.
Data revealed Waveney to be 23rd in the country, with Bury St Edmunds at number 25.
The charity developed the maps ahead of a parliamentary information session and is calling on MPs to do everything they can to ensure dementia remains a national priority.
There are currently 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK and 86,204 are estimated to be in the east.
Steve Gallant, cabinet member for community health at Suffolk Coastal District Council, said a lot of work has been done to raise awareness of the condition.
He said: “We, as a society, are living longer – and that is a good thing. But unfortunately one in 14 people over the age of 65 will suffer from dementia.
“Suffolk Coastal has a growing aging population and due to the desirability of the area, we do see many people retiring here.
“A lot of work has been done and over the last two or three years the drive by the local authority and by the volunteer sector has been toward advocacy and raising awareness.
“There has been dementia training and steps have been taken with businesses and organisations to make the area a dementia friendly community.
“Local support groups have been started and last week a brand new memory cafe opened in Felixstowe and this is exactly the sort of initiative we want to support.
“Advocacy has been key but I think now there is call for action and an aim to really make a difference.”
Colin Sargeant, Essex county councillor for Clacton East, said the drive in the area should be geared towards raising awareness of the condition.
He said: “Only last week I attended a virtual dementia tour which gives people the chance to experience what a person suffering from dementia goes through.
“It was scary, confusing and I felt extremely vulnerable. I hope to be able to offer residents the chance to attend a local session.
“It is really about raising awareness and giving people the knowledge of what dementia is.
“A lot of good work has been done and I think Essex County Council should be congratulated on giving its staff and members a virtual reality tour and hopefully that can cascade across the county.
“The county is having a go, but there is a lot more work to be done.”
Dr Matthew Norton, director of policy at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Dementia is our greatest medical challenge and with our ageing population, the number of people affected by this devastating condition is only going to rise.
“Today, one in three people have a family member or close friend with dementia. Despite this, there is still a worrying lack of public understanding about the condition, which is why we have developed the dementia hotspots maps.
“These maps underline the devastating impact dementia is having on our communities, and we hope it will inspire people to join our movement to bring an end to the fear, harm and heartbreak caused by dementia.”