While it’s true that some brain changes are inevitable when it comes to aging, major memory problems can indicate a more serious problem. That’s why it’s important to know the difference between usual age-related forgetfulness and symptoms that may indicate the development of a cognitive problem. If you are worried about your memory then make an appointment with your GP or talk to your district nurse. An early confirmation of the type of memory loss you are experiencing means that advice and support can be put in place that may stop or slow down the speed of decline and provide aids to help you, and the people who care for you, to feel safe and confident to enjoy an independent and fulfilling life.

Memory problems and dementia can also affect younger adults (below the age of 65), symptoms can be associated more with changes in vision, movement and behaviour, than memory loss. If you have concerns make an appointment to see your doctor.

What happens next?

Your GP may be able to help you, or will refer you to the Memory Clinic to see what is causing the symptoms. Depending on the outcome, you will be advised what services and support are available locally for you to access, possibly through a Dementia Navigator. This will help support you and anyone supporting you to continue living at home independently for as long as you wish.

What if the diagnosis is Dementia?

With a diagnosis of dementia it is possible to live well at home. The NHS provides help that includes the treatment you receive from your GP and hospital. It can also include other types of healthcare such as community team support from mental health professionals, physiotherapy, audiology (hearing care), optometry (eye tests), podiatry (foot care), speech and language therapy, and mobility specialists. In Surrey Heath we also have an Integrated Care Team of health and social care professionals to support people to live independently.

What if I need further support at home?

Within Surrey Heath there are a range of services that can help support a person with dementia and their carer or family members.

The Surrey Heath locality team at Surrey County Council offers assessments for people with dementia and their carers; this can help to understand someone's needs, and how they can be met within the local community.

Surrey Heath Borough Council's Community Services Team offers a range of services to support someone to remain independent in the community, including community alarms and telecare, transport, Windle Valley day centre, GPS (global positioning system) and meals at home.

Alzheimer's Society provides a range of information as well as the Dementia Navigator service and can be contacted for one-to-one information and advice.

There is a range of homecare/domiciliary agencies in the Surrey Heath area that may be able to offer regular visits to help with washing, dressing and other aspects of personal care, respite for carers or even live-in care to help people with dementia to remain in their own home.

You may be eligible for NHS continuing healthcare (CHC). To qualify, you need to have an individual assessment, this may have already happened. Click here for more information.

What about the people who help and care for me?

In Surrey Heath we also want to make sure the carers and families of people with dementia are provided for as their health and wellbeing is just as important. If you look after someone you have the right to ask for a carer’s assessment. A carer’s assessment looks at the impact your caring responsibilities have on your life and what social care support you might be eligible for.

Carers are unpaid people, usually relatives, who provide the care and support on a daily basis. Quite often they are the spouse or partner of the person with dementia and do not see themselves as a “Carer”. There are a number of services available to carers including respite care, carer breaks and carer assessment.

Click here to find out about the advice and support you could access across Surrey.

What if I can’t manage in my own home?

There are a range of residential and nursing homes in Surrey Heath that may be able to support you. Information can be found on what might be appropriate for you including the Care Choices directory.

Making improvements in your local community

The Surrey Heath Dementia Group is made up of partners across health (including mental health), social care, community, voluntary, leisure and individuals affected by dementia. Together they have developed the Surrey Heath Dementia Strategy (link) aimed at making improvements locally and are monitoring the changes that are being made.

Dementia Friendly Communities form a key part of the local strategy and in Surrey Heath CCG area there are three: Camberley, Bagshot and Ash. They are bringing together organisations committed to transforming the lives of people affected by dementia, and encouraging and supporting them to take practical actions to create dementia-friendly communities where people living with dementia, their carers and families are supported to feel part of the community.