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Home truths

I am always pleased to find reference to my hometown – Wolverhampton. This morning I read the story of Bhagwant Sachdeva, who lives in the city (still a town for me) and has dementia.

The article is a lead for Dementia Action Week, focussing on the need for and virtues of early diagnosis- and pointing to particular problems in identifying dementia in South Asian elders: Taboo stops south Asian people in UK seeking help for dementia, says charity | Alzheimer's | The Guardian

In the late 1990s we worked hard and closely with the South Asian and African-Caribbean populations of Wolverhampton to bring together their understanding of the changes which western medicine conceives as dementia, and the interpretations within cultures. We produced a report ‘Twice a Child’ – which came from the African-Caribbean: ‘One a man – Twice a Child’. There was, and is, no word or phrase in Punjabi which is equivalent to dementia.

The effort of working together was immensely satisfying and inspiring – great learning and growth of trust and respect on all sides. We saw more people from the minority populations coming to our service – and hopefully receiving help from us and the extra knowledge for individuals and families. A key development was the appointment of a Community Psychiatric Nurse within the service for older people. She was able to speak Punjabi, was part of the South Asian culture and gave generously of her knowledge to help individuals and patients and colleagues – a multi-dimensional hit.

So we would give every support and encouragement to initiatives to improve help for South Asian elders, and all elders and their families with dementia. The Pandemic has seen a fall in diagnosis rates across the board, perhaps more so in the minority groups, so it is reasonable that Dementia Action Week and the conference on May 17th will concentrate on issues of diagnosis: Alzheimer's Society Annual Conference 2022 | Alzheimer's Society (

The online version of Andrew Gregory’s article features a row of brain scans – mercifully absent from the print version. We are all about people and how people experience life with dementia. That is what is important to individuals and families.

A beautiful summary of this came in the film Iris – The doctor in his white coat discussing a brain scan. The taxi driver wrapping Iris and her husband in reassurance and good sense.

People will learn more from Barbara Stephens as she describes the Sandwell service which brings together Primary Care with several other agencies to deliver a caring, economic and reliable service – a template which can be adopted widely.

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