A GRANDAD diagnosed with Alzheimer’s today welcomed news that more people suffering from the devastating illness will be able to get help.
Public Health England and the Alzheimer’s Society have joined forces as part of a new campaign urging people to tackle one of the biggest health issues facing the North East.
The Dementia Friends initiative aims to show it will take a whole society response to assist people with the condition to live well.
It is estimated that about 3,300 people are living with dementia in Sunderland and the initiative will show how the small things can make a difference.
Famous faces including actor Ray Winstone, TV presenters Paul O’Grady and Eamonn Holmes will perform the Beatles track With A Little Help From My Friends in a new advert to be shown on TV for the first time tonight.
The advert will encourage viewers to become a Dementia Friend – which means learning a few useful tips to help make life better for those living with the condition.
Dad-of-three and granddad-of-six Brian Hamilton, of Fencehouses, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s 18 months ago.
Mr Hamilton, who also has arthritis, began to have problems with his memory which is when his family encouraged him to see his doctor.
“This scheme will definitely be a good thing,” said the retired miner, 63, who worked at Herrington Colliery. “I was devastated when I first got the diagnosis. I thought I would change overnight as a person and I even contemplated suicide at one point.
“But I told my wife and daughter when I was having those thoughts and managed to get help.”
Despite his condition, Mr Hamilton continues to stay active, regularly attending a Memory Cafe with other sufferers and a lunch club.
Dr Roberta Marshall, director of the Public Health England centre, North East, said: “The statistics speak for themselves, 34,000 people are living with dementia in the North East and we can all do something to support them by signing up to become a Dementia Friend.”
For more details, go to www.dementiafriends.org.uk.