Dementia Expert Calls for Compassion

A Manchester GP is rallying for more compassion and understanding of older people’s issues – especially memory problems.

Dr Helen Martin, who leads on dementia issues for Central Manchester Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), is highlighting what can be done to keep older people mentally fit and socially active as new figures show that at least 4,000 people in Manchester have dementia.
Dr Martin says: “Memory problems are normally the trigger for patients or their relatives to come and see a doctor in the first place.
“But, what a lot of people don’t realise is that stress or depression can also have a major impact on memory – not just dementia.
“This stress is commonly associated with feeling the loss of a role – like retiring from work; or not feeling needed as a parent or grandparent any more.
“Often it’s a vicious circle of worry. Stress causes the initial problems and then fear of a dementia diagnosis increases anxiety and compounds memory loss.”
Medics agree that keeping active, eating well and keeping up friendship groups or social activities all help with general health and mental wellbeing.
Dr Martin continues: “It’s so important to make sure older people are respected and included in the community. If a person has lost their husband or wife, for example, going out or social events can become daunting and painful. This is one of the key points where isolation can have a very damaging effect on confidence and contribute to memory loss.
“We live in a time when families don’t always live together and we all need to make sure that loneliness doesn’t damage mental and physical health.
“Often it’s just the little things that help. Being patient in a queue if someone is slower counting out their money; taking time to say hello and have a chat with a neighbour; having chairs available in shops; or making sure older relatives can get to social groups or outings.”
According to projections from the Alzheimer’s Society the number of people with dementia will soar globally by 2050, with a threefold increase in the number of people with the condition.
This weekend (Saturday 28 September) saw a memory walk to raise funds for the Alzheimer’s Society at Heaton Park, while tomorrow (Tuesday 1 October) is International Older People’s Day.
For more information please contact NHS Greater Manchester Commissioning Support Unit on 0161 212 4885 or email
Notes to editors
Dementia statistics and details are available from Manchester’s Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA), which can be viewed at:
Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are NHS organisations led by local GPs and other health care professionals who are responsible for deciding how the local health budget is spent.
There are three CCGs in Manchester: North Manchester CCG, Central Manchester CCG and South Manchester CCG.
All GP practices in the city are members of one of these groups. They are responsible for planning and paying for services within each area. This includes planned hospital care such as operations, rehabilitation services, urgent and emergency care and most community services such as district nursing or physiotherapist, mental health services and learning disability services.