Health: ‘Bravo to Leeds theatre playing a lead role in dementia fight’

The world premier of Northern Ballet's production of '1984' at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, in Leeds. Picture by Lorne Campbell/ Guzelian.

The world premier of Northern Ballet's production of '1984' at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, in Leeds. Picture by Lorne Campbell/ Guzelian.

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Worrying predictions about the soaring diagnosis rate of people with dementia cannot be ignored.

Thankfully Leeds organisations seemingly agree, with the Dementia Friendly Leeds campaign spreading its wings at an impressive rate in recent years.

A mixture of passionate community campaigners, NHS and local authority chiefs and third sector activists are making a real difference by raising the profile of a condition that affects 5,800 people in the city at present.

Dementia, which can cause memory loss, language and reasoning problems, is a growing problem. Experts believe 3,000 people are living with undiagnosed dementia in Leeds, and believe the diagnosis rate in the city will hit 10,000 by 2025.

A special YEP Summit on the issue brought together policy makers, charities and activists last month following the heartbreaking story of June Rance, who was first diagnosed aged just 41, and her husband Len who now also has the condition.

In light of the growing awareness of the issue, the team at West Yorkshire Playhouse are helping to blaze a trail for people with dementia whose symptoms are often misunderstood.

It was recently commended by the Alzheimer’s Society, winning its Dementia Friendly Award, for its of creative activities and dementia-friendly performances aimed at helping people with dementia and their partners.

Giving carers and those with the condition the chance to enjoy respite without fear of being judged is crucial, and it’s great to see an esteemed theatre like the playhouse taking a lead role.

HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED

Organisations can sign up to the Leeds Dementia Action Alliance by completing a form online.

You can find the form at www.dementiaaction.org.uk/leeds and create an action plan for how to support people with dementia.

Individuals can become Dementia Friends – to understand more about the condition and ways to help – by watching a short film online or attending a local awareness session run by a Dementia Friends Champion.

Visit www.dementiafriends.org.uk for information.

You can also visit ‘Dementia Friendly Leeds’ on Facebook or contact the alliance on 0113 2441697.

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