With nearly 20,000 people aged over 65 living with dementia in Hertfordshire and west Essex, care organisations are raising awareness that can help reduce the risk of developing the syndrome.

A doctor who works in Hertfordshire has been offering advice as part of World Alzheimer’s Day which falls tomorrow. (Thursday)

Dr Mike Walker, an old age psychiatrist at Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (HPFT), said: “We want people to know the exciting news about preventing dementia. By keeping mentally and physically active, giving up smoking and seeking early help when you’re unwell, you can reduce your risk of getting dementia and slow the impact of the disease.

“We’re hoping more communities across our area will become dementia friendly, joining the Alzheimer’s Society initiative to be more understanding of people living with dementia,” continued Mike.

“There are small things you can do to make a difference to someone with dementia, like being understanding in a queue when an older person is counting out their money, staying in touch with someone with dementia and speaking in short simple sentences.”

Across Hertfordshire and west Essex, there are several ‘dementia friendly communities’, which have pledged to work towards becoming dementia-friendly using the Alzheimer’s Society guidelines, including Tring and Wheathampstead in Hertfordshire, and all three districts and boroughs in west Essex: Harlow, Epping Forest and Uttlesford.

By 2035, that number of people living with dementia in our area is expected to have grown to around 33,000.

If you would like to find out what you can do to make a difference to someone with dementia, visit www.dementiafriends.org.uk and book a place on a free, one-hour Dementia Friends session.