THE number of people living with dementia in the county is set to double in the next 15 years – and it is more important than ever that they, and their carers, receive the proper support.

The Gazette is today putting the spotlight on local services for dementia sufferers, as part of Dementia Awareness Week, which runs from May 18-24.

In Odiham, there is a dedicated team of people caring for dementia sufferers at Rosefield Day Centre, in Odiham Cottage Hospital, where friendships are formed, games are played and songs are sung.

Crucially, the centre also gives carers the chance to have some respite from their day-to-day duties.

Age Concern Hampshire dementia lead Kym Devine said: “Each of our centres provide person-centred day care and offer a wide range of activities that aim to support and enhance the lives of people with dementia and their carers.

“We believe that it is possible to live well with dementia and we encourage carers and the wider community to get involved.”

Among the activities offered at the day care centre, which runs three days a week from 9.30am to 4pm, is a weekly singing group, specifically designed for those with dementia.

Barbara Rayner, who runs the Singing for the Brain sessions, said: “The people here get a huge amount out of the singing sessions.

“For some of those with dementia, people will still be able to sing, even after they are no longer able to talk. That part of the brain which deals with music is often the last to be affected.”

She added: “We sing old songs and they will often remember the tunes from when they were younger.

“It triggers memories and when we are singing, we will often discuss what the songs mean to them.”

Anne Grayson, who works as a support worker for Rosefield Day Centre, said it offers a vital service, and added: “For a lot of people, it offers somewhere to come and socialise with others. Friendship groups form here – we have a very tight knit group who love playing dominoes together.”

She added: “It is also a chance for the carers to get some respite – something which is very important. It can be a real struggle for carers, who are often left home alone with people with dementia which can be very difficult.”

Other activities on offer at the centre include arts and crafts, sessions with a physiotherapist, pets as therapy sessions and treats including visits from a hairdresser and holistic treatments such as hand massages.

Currently, Hampshire has around 18,500 people living with dementia and this figure is set to double by 2030. But only 44 per cent of people with dementia receive a diagnosis.

The Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Awareness Week Initiative included an open day yesterday at the Odiham day centre, in which carers and people living with the condition had the chance to tour the facilities, meet with staff and learn more about the condition.

They also had the opportunity to learn about becoming a Dementia Friend – an initiative to encourage individuals and businesses to commit to learning more about the condition.

Mrs Devine said: “This awareness week is so important as it gets people talking about dementia. It is possible to live well with dementia, and the sooner it is diagnosed the better.

“We are going to see a rise in dementia, because of a number of different factors, and it is important people know where to turn.”