Leading charity highlights support for people with dementia ahead of World Mental Health Day

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A leading charity has warned that people with dementia in Wales are at risk of depression and anxiety, particularly in the early stages following a diagnosis.

The Alzheimer Society Cymru is highlighting the problem on World Mental Health Day on October 10 and has given advice to caregivers and family members to help support those with the disease.

According to the World Health Organization, one in eight people lives with a mental health problem.

The theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day is “Making mental health and well-being for all a global priority”.

There are 900,000 people with dementia in the UK, including around 50,000 in Wales. Cheryl James, Cymru Area Manager for the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “While people can live well with dementia, some people can experience depression and anxiety, often after a diagnosis but also at other times. other times.

“For some people, it could be directly related to them worrying about their memory and their future.

“That’s why it’s so important to reassure a person with dementia that they are still valued and that their feelings matter, and to try to shield them from outside stress as much as possible.

“If you are caring for someone with dementia, you can help them by identifying appropriate activities and stimulations to help them stay involved and engaged, and by encouraging social interaction and relationships with others. »

The charity has given advice to close friends and family of people with dementia, who may be worried about their mental wellbeing.

Talk to them about their feelings – if someone is feeling depressed or anxious, or if something very upsetting or traumatic has happened to them, they may find it helpful to tell someone close. (Patience and understanding will be more helpful than trying to “cheer up” the person.)

Offer support to help them maintain social contact with other people – this will help them feel less isolated and retain their sense of identity.

Persevere with treatment – the person’s family should encourage him to continue taking his medication or consulting his therapist even if the improvement seems slow at first.

stay active – physical exercise is good for relieving feelings of anxiety and depression and can also help people with sleep disturbances and apathy. Helping the person do other activities that they enjoy will often help as well.

Adopt a healthy diet – a poor diet can contribute to feelings of anxiety and depression, as can alcohol and caffeine. So it’s a good idea to try to eat a healthy diet and not drink too much alcohol or caffeinated beverages.

Cheryl added: “No one should face dementia alone. We want everyone affected by dementia to know that whoever you are, whatever you are going through, you can turn to the Alzheimer Society for emotional support, information and advice.

“You can call our Dementia Connect helpline on 0333 150 3456 (Welsh language helpline on 03300 947 400) to speak to one of our empathetic dementia counsellors, or visit our website alzheimers.org .uk where there is a wealth of information to help people with dementia cope with depression and anxiety.

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