Jennette Arnold
London assembly member for North East London — fighting your corner at City Hall

This week (18-24 May 2014) marks Dementia Awareness Week (#DAW2014).

In London today, #1in3 people over 65 develop dementia. That means many of us are likely to suffer from, or know someone who suffers from, this debilitating mental health problem.

I recently attended a ‘Singing for the Brain’ session with the Alzheimer’s Society, and I saw first-hand the devastating impact the condition has – not only on the person with dementia but their family, friends and carers too.

The fact that there are more and more people in London and the UK who are living with dementia puts into perspective why there is a duty on us all to act.

Across the UK, on average, less than half of the people who suffer from dementia have received a diagnosis and it is only once people have this diagnosis that they can access the vital support services that exist to help them and their family members. There are many reasons why people may be afraid to ask their GP for a diagnosis: they may feel scared, confused or even ashamed. But the sooner they know what they’re dealing with, the sooner they can get on with their lives and feel in control again.

That’s why Alzheimer’s Society – the charity behind Dementia Awareness Week – is using this week to encourage people to open up and talk about dementia. They want anyone who is concerned about dementia to talk to their doctor, their family and friends, but also to come and talk to Alzheimer’s Society.

This year, Dementia Awareness Week coincides with the European and local elections. But as a condition impacting on so many – which research has shown people fear more than any other illness – it is vital that dementia is tackled from both sides of the House of Commons, local and European politicians of all colours, and, importantly, by members of the public as they go about their everyday lives.

As such, I urge all the politicians – particularly in Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest – as well as everyone in London that I represent at City Hall to take part in Dementia Awareness Week.

A whole host of activities in and around London will be taking place to make people aware of the help and support that is on offer if they are worried about their memory, or that of a loved one.

From becoming a Dementia Friend (which I recently did) to spreading the word on social media, together we can tackle this condition.

Dementia Awareness Week 2014 runs from 18-24 May. Find out more at alzheimers.org.uk/daw2014. If you have any concerns about dementia, you can call Alzheimer’s Society’s National Dementia Helpline for confidential advice, information and support on 0300 222 11 22. You can also email enquiries to helpline@alzheimers.org.uk