WORLD Alzheimer’s Day was recognised with a special service at historic Sunderland Minster.
About 40 people gathered at the venue to hear readings from speakers including the Reverend Martin Anderson.
Those who have dementia typically struggle to think, lose their memories and experience personality changes.
Today, more than 3,000 people on Wearside are battling the disease.
Ernie Thompson, chairman of Action on Dementia Sunderland, said the event was an important one.
“We are becoming a more and more secular nation but the generations that are affected by dementia, the majority of people with it are in their 70s or 80s, so they are more likely want some kind of spiritual recognition,” he said.
Mr Thompson added that he felt there was still a stigma surrounding the illness.
“It’s remarkable really as there have been two British prime ministers and an American president in Ronald Reagan who have had it so why there should be a stigma I don’t know,” he said.
“I remember Reagan’s wife saying that it felt like all of her friends moved away when her husband became ill.
“That’s because people don’t know to handle dementia.
“It’s not vindictive, they just don’t know how to cope.”
Action on Dementia continue to put on a number of Memory Cafe events in Sunderland for people with the illness and their families to attend.
For details, phone Mr Thompson on 07902 336136.