CEREDIGION has the highest prevalence of dementia in west Wales, according to the latest figures as the UK prepares to mark National Dementia Action Week.

Across Ceredigion around 1,149 people are living with dementia - the highest prevalence of dementia in West Wales.

However, as the West Wales Regional Dementia Strategy notes only half will be diagnosed, which means a lot of ‘hidden’ cases and families struggling with support.

In 2022, research by Alzheimer’s UK showed that dementia is the UK’s leading cause of death especially among women. But as numbers grow, more people are now living longer with the condition.

But what does this look like? Can you live well with dementia. Positives are hard to find in what can be an overwhelming situation. But there is community help available, which tries to support an approach to living well.

Across the county, there are now new memory clubs being set up.

Supported by a mix of Ceredigion County Council’s community connectors, the Older Adult Mental Health Service and voluntary organisations, these offer opportunities for dementia clients and carers to socialise and remain engaged with their communities.

One example of this is HAHAV’s Caffi Cofion.

The Ceredigion charity runs a weekly afternoon tea activity for people with dementia and their carers. Around 15 people attend each week.

The Caffi is supported by The Margaret and Alick Potter Trust and has hosted hundreds of clients over the last few years.

Recently the Caffi has been running a music therapy project.

Lilian Brady listening to music (HAHAV)

Working with wellness expert, Alex Holloway, clients have been compiling their own playlists of favourite music and songs. For many these have triggered happy memories and clients have been recording their memories around these tunes.

Susie Scott, HAHAV’s Living Well Manager said: “Not only have clients enjoyed selecting their playlists, dancing, and sharing their music but it’s a wonderful legacy for families. A sound album which gives relatives and loved ones new insights and memories to look back on.”

Lilian, pictured, who took part in the playlist for life project, has recently moved to a care home and staff there said the playlist has been a great comfort to her.

Susie added: “The MP3 Player that Lilian brought with her has helped reduce her anxiety and made the transition to the home easier.’”

Anne, a carer, said: ‘Having music for Richard helps me as a carer to find time to myself,’ while her husband, Richard added: ‘Being part of this music project helped words stick in my mind better.’’

The playlist for life project has been funded as part of the mid-Wales Shared Prosperity Fund, while dementia clients from Ray Ceredigion’s Forget-me-Knot Club are also supported by the same funding. They’ve been creating a float decoration for this year’s Aberaeron carnival.

BOrth project
members of the Borth Dementia Friendly Group working on an art project (HAHAV)

Creativity and making things are popular activities for many of the dementia groups. At Borth Community Hub where a group meet on Monday mornings, an exhibition has been created that can currently be seen at Bronglais Hospital, and they will also be contributing to The Borth Fest event later this month.

‘Whether it’s just a chat or being involved in an activity, time and time again we see the benefits to both clients and carers,’ says Karen Jones, coordinator for Caffi Cofion. ‘Clients talk about their achievements, seeing their art on display and the confidence it gives them.’

But while these memory clubs offer important socialising and creative opportunities, for many who don’t have their own transport, the issue is often how to get to them. As a result, the difficulties of living with dementia becomes even more challenging in rural Ceredigion.

As part of the National Dementia Awareness Week (13-19 May) HAHAV’s living well centre at Plas Antaron will be hosting a pop-up Dementia Hub.

This will take place on Monday, 13 May and Tuesday, 14 May, between 11am to 3pm at its Aberystwyth base. Organisations taking part include Connecting Ceredigion, Carers Wales, Credu, HAHAV and Ray Ceredigion.

The invitation to set up a hub came from Dementia Friendly Swansea. Manager, Hannah Davies, who said: ‘”n the Swansea area we’ve seen how hubs have helped people by providing a one stop centre for all things dementia related.

“They are often manned by volunteers and are based in shopping and or community centres. The hubs are proving to be an effective signposting service, bringing clients, carers, and organisations together in one place.’

If you are a family affected by dementia or a carer, then please drop into the hub at Plas Antaron, parking is free. Information will be available and there will be quiet spaces for people to talk 1-2-1.

Memory Clubs in Ceredigion

Borth Dementia Friendly Group, Borth Community Hub, Mondays 10-12

Aberystwyth, HAHAV’s Living Well Centre, Plas Antaron, SY23 1SF.

Caffi Cofion, Wednesdays, 2 – 4pm.

Llandysul: Memory Café, 10-12.00, Tysul Church Hall, Church Street, Llandysul

4th Wednesday of every month. Access and parking available.

Forget-me-Knot Club, Ray Ceredigion, Aberaeron

Every Friday, 10.30 – 12.30pm

Cake and Clonc

Lampeter, Communal Lounge, Llys Pedr Sheltered Housing, SA48 7DD

Third Monday of every month, 2-4pm

Cardigan, Communal Lounge, Bro Teifi Sheltered Housing, SA43 1DS

First Tuesday of every month, 2 – 4pm.

Memory cafes are open to people with memory problems or dementia and their carers. If you do have a diagnosis but are concerned about your memory, come, and join for a chat.

Useful contacts:

Monica Bason-Flaquer is a programme manager for the Dementia Strategy, supported by the West Wales and Care Partners Regional Partnership Board. Monica can provide up to date figures/stats and ‘issues’ around dementia care now facing the county.

Sian Salcombe

Community Connector, Llandysul Memory Club

Kim Parry, Memory Clubs in Lampeter and Cardigan

Ray Ceredigion, Forget-me-Knot Club

Jenny Higgins, Coordinator

Helen Williams, Manager, Borth Community Hub