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Bexleyheath dementia champion keeping her mind on the prize

PUBLISHED: 10:59 05 July 2013 | UPDATED: 09:17 08 July 2013

Meeta Hans with her Dementia Friends Champion award

Meeta Hans with her Dementia Friends Champion award

Archant

Bexleyheath resident Meeta Hans does not have a personal reason to raise dementia awareness but this has not stopped her campaigning on the issue.

Meeta HansMeeta Hans

The Bexleyheath resident is a Dementia Friends Champion, meaning she encourages others to make a positive difference to people who have the condition.

As far as she is aware, she is the only one in Bexley and Meeta would love to get more people involved. She is holding a free 90-minute session at her home on July 13 where she will encourage people to engage with sufferers.

The 56-year-old said: “It is my passion and belief that drives me to contribute this to my local community.

“The biggest obstacles are the myths and stigma surrounding dementia – the idea that the patient’s memory is failing and they’re not the same person any more.

Dementia fact file

Dementia describes different brain that trigger a loss of brain functions - they are usually progressive and eventually severe.

Alzheimer’s is the most common, affecting 62 per cent of people diagnosed in the UK.

Symptoms include memory loss, confusion and problems with speech and understanding.

One in three people over 65 will die with dementia.

Several famous sufferers have helped raise the profile of dementia, including actors Charlton Heston and Charles Bronson, former American president Ronald Reagan and boxer Sugar Ray Robinson.

“We need to break this stigma because too often people are too scared to talk about Alzheimer’s and other dementia-associated conditions.”

The Dementia Friends network aims to give people who suffer from these conditions a helping hand to go about their daily lives and feel part of their community.

Meeta moved to Britain from India a decade ago and his lived in Bexleyheath for almost three years.

She said: “Bexley is my community and I want to engage and interact with them. I’m interested in both prevention and early intervention to make life easier for people who suffer from dementia.

“I expect no payment and I have no budget. Hopefully by doing this more people will be encouraged to become Dementia Friends Champions and spread the word.

“It’s a really nice campaign, there are no expectations on people who get involved.

“I don’t pretend to be an expert but the service is incredibly important for Bexley, which has quite an elderly average population.”

Mother-of-one Meeta holds sessions at her house because she is yet to find someone to offer her a suitable space to operate from, despite putting out a number of appeals.

There are 800,000 people in this country who suffer from some form of dementia and 25 million people have a close friend or family member with it.

Meeta says it is a great source of pride that she has helped so many people over the years and she’s not ready to give up yet.

“I love public speaking and when I’ve given talks like this in the past it usually resonates – I’m hoping for the same reaction this time, for the good of the people of Bexley.”

The session is at 29 Chieveley Road in Bexleyheath at 3pm on Saturday, July 13. Contact Meeta on 07897 407507 or 01322 551470.

To sign up visit dementiafriends.org.uk and search for sessions in Bexley.

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