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Gentoo Memory Event marks Dementia Awareness Week

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Gentoo Memory Event marks Dementia Awareness Week


Published by LauraMcKinlay for Gentoo Group in Care and Support and also in Health

Memory Event Memory Event

As part of Gentoo’s drive to become a dementia friendly organisation, the social business held a Memory Event for local people and staff at Virgin Active Club, Doxford Park.  The event was held to mark National Dementia Awareness Week, raising awareness and providing support for those who are living or caring for someone with dementia.

The event was supported by local partners including the Alzheimer’s Society, Age UK Sunderland, Telecare, Sunderland Carers Centre, Washington Mind, Memory Protection Service, Sunderland NHS Health Trainer Service, South Tyneside NHS Nutrition team, Foundation Trust and Action on Dementia Sunderland as well as Gentoo’s own Wellbeing team who were on hand to give expert advice to anyone who is concerned about dementia.  People were also able to get free health checks and find out more about becoming a Dementia Friend.

Brian Hamilton, 63, was diagnosed with dementia in 2012 and spoke at the event about how he deals with dementia on a day to day basis.

Brian, who lives in Houghton-le-Spring, said: “I want to express the way life changes for people with dementia and the only way to do that is to talk to strangers. I want to help people understand more about dementia which is why I have been working with my Alzheimer’s Society dementia support worker Karen Wilkinson and Gentoo who have been great.  I want people to know what I am going through so they might see it in their own families and know how to deal with people with dementia better”.

Alzheimer’s Society dementia-support worker Karen Wilkinson, who is based at the charity’s Sunderland office at the Princess of Wales Centre, Hylton Road, Sunderland, added: “Brian is nothing short of inspirational. His determination to raise public awareness about dementia is incredible. It is thanks to people like Brian who have such a positive attitude that we will raise people’s understanding of what dementia entails and he will also help tackle the stigma that is attached to the condition and deters people from seeking vital help and increases social isolation.”

Equal Arts were also at the event to talk to people about their exciting new project ‘Hen Power’. Hen Power encourages older people to get involved in hen keeping as a way of reducing social isolation and to increasing health and wellbeing.

To raise awareness of dementia and tackle the stigma associated with the condition Gentoo has been delivering Dementia Friends sessions across the city as well as regular memory events and dementia awareness workshops.  In addition, front line staff have received bespoke training covering the different types of dementia, signs and symptoms and what to do if they come across someone who is suffering from memory loss. 

Julie Walker, Head of Operations, Gentoo said: “Gentoo is committed to raising awareness of dementia and the stigma that is associated with the condition, so more people recognise the signs and seek support if they are worried. As an organisation it’s paramount that we support individuals living with dementia when considering our ageing population and the increasing prevalence rates of dementia.  Our vision is to ‘Improve the Art of Living’ for all people including those living with dementia.”

There are 44.4 million people are living with dementia worldwide and this is expected to rise to 75.6 million in 2030.  670,000 of these live in England.  In Sunderland approximately 3,300 people live with dementia and only half with a diagnosis.  This figure is set to increase to 4,500 over the next 15 years.  1 in 3 people over 65 will develop dementia. It is one of the biggest health crises facing our country and is not a ‘natural’ part of growing old. 

Gentoo Group’s whole ethos is about believing nothing is impossible and finding new ways to challenge conventions, Gentoo aims to make society a better place to live and to make a real difference to the way people live their life. To find out more about Gentoo, visit for more information or follow @gentoogroup on Twitter.


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