Experts gather for Dementia Awareness Week

Monday 3rd June 2019

Researchers, policymakers, healthcare workers and academics meet in Edinburgh today alongside people with dementia and their carers as Alzheimer Scotland’s annual conference begins.

Attendees will explore the latest advances in dementia care being led from Scotland, covering brain health, research, prevention and support helping people to live with dementia.

Over 90,000 Scots are estimated to be living with the condition.

The gathering will be opened by Danny and Catherine McDonald, who live with dementia and campaign for the rights of people living with the condition, their families and carers, followed by a performance from a dementia-friendly choir.

55-year old Danny said: “It is a great privilege to talk at Alzheimer Scotland’s annual conference to mark the start of Dementia Awareness Week. Three years ago, I was diagnosed with vascular dementia. It was very difficult as we had two teenage children at home and our lives changed significantly, almost overnight. One of the biggest adjustments for me was having to give up my driving license and feeling I was somehow losing my identity. 

“My diagnosis was a shock but there have been many positive experiences since. I have new friends and many of them from my local dementia friendly choir which always leaves me feeling much brighter. If a cure was found today for dementia it wouldn’t benefit me but It would benefit my children and future generations. I very much hope for that.”

Henry Simmons of Alzheimer Scotland said: “Dementia Awareness Week gives us the chance to put dementia firmly in the spotlight to help break down the stigma of a dementia diagnosis and raise awareness of the latest supports and care available in communities across Scotland, made possible thanks to our generous supporters who continue to raise vital funds for the support we deliver.

“Research is informing us more about dementia prevention, how to improve the quality of life of those living with the illness and will ultimately help to find a cure. If you do just one thing this week for Dementia Awareness Week sign up to Join Dementia Research to help Scotland build the largest cohort of willing research participants as possible and start your journey to help us transform our understanding of the illness.”

Professor Craig Ritchie of the University of Edinburgh, who heads up a project trying to identify mid-life risks for dementia and a European consortium researching early aspects of Alzheimer’s disease, added:

“There’s never been a more crucial time than now given the urgent need for more dementia and brain health research and to fulfil this need for engaging with hundreds if not thousands of people to take part in research. Scotland is poised to lead the world in implementing and undertaking the research that will make a dramatic difference to our entire understanding and perspective of brain health.”