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Caithness and north Sutherland dementia adviser encourages people to seek support


By David G Scott

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A far north dementia adviser says that support is available to help people live independently for as long as possible.

Speaking to the John O'Groat Journal in a Thurso café, Isobel Stevenson talked about her work with Alzheimer Scotland – the country's biggest dementia charity – and how services have progressed since we last spoke to her in October 2022.

Isobel Stevenson is a dementia advisor with Alzheimer Scotland and covers Caithness and north Sutherland. Picture: DGS
Isobel Stevenson is a dementia advisor with Alzheimer Scotland and covers Caithness and north Sutherland. Picture: DGS

"Since starting I've been setting up groups and support sessions," said Isobel.

"More people are becoming aware of my work and, as a result, I get more coming to me for help and support regarding their dementia. Carers also come for help and advice regarding loved ones with dementia."

Isobel said she wanted to share updates on progress made over the last year and other help that is available for people and carers affected by dementia.

"Throughout the dementia journey there are difficult times and changes. I'm here to help with that and Alzheimer Scotland provides a lot of support for the person with dementia and carers as well, so we advise people to get in touch."

Isobel said that though many people are now open about dementia and willing to come forward to seek help there are others who feel embarrassed about the matter and less keen due to a perceived stigma. "That's why some people are further forward in their dementia journey before they ask for help.

"For some, there is a stigma and they don't want to talk about it but I would encourage people to ask for support as soon as they can. There are many things that can be put in place to make life easier for the whole family."

Isobel is based at the Dunbar Hospital in Thurso but covers all of Caithness and beyond into north Sutherland. Picture: DGS
Isobel is based at the Dunbar Hospital in Thurso but covers all of Caithness and beyond into north Sutherland. Picture: DGS

Though she has a base at Thurso's Dunbar Hospital, Isobel stresses that her role covers all of Caithness and around north Sutherland. She noted the differences in approaches to people with dementia and how care homes are not the first port of call for many.

"Everybody's situation is different and it's not a given fact that someone gets dementia and goes into a care home – that's not what happens. There's a lot of help and support available for people to live independently as long as they can. People can be supported at home for as long as possible.

"Alzheimer Scotland is there to support people and everyone is free to come and talk to me. I don't want anyone to feel that they're the only family going through this and there isn't any support available."

Isobel invites all who are dealing with dementia issues to contact her.
Isobel invites all who are dealing with dementia issues to contact her.

Isobel said that she enjoys working within the community and is on hand to give advice and help to any local groups or health professionals. "I offer a mix of online and in person support, including our groups, and can also carry out home visits if needed," she added.

People can contact Isobel by telephone on 07818 538683 or by email istevenson@alzscot.org

For more information on Alzheimer Scotland visit: www.alzscot.org/

Alzheimer Scotland also has a Freephone Dementia Helpline, where emotional support and signposting advice are available 24 hours, every day of the year. Call anytime on 0808 808 3000.

Caithness What's On Guide

  • Every Tuesday 11am-12pm chair-based exercise class/activities at Ormlie Community Centre, Thurso. Followed by lunch hub 12-1.30pm.
  • The 3rd Tuesday of every month, Dementia Café at Thurso Community Café from 2-3pm. Come along for a chat with others in a similar situation. (next café Tuesday, February 20)
  • Every 2nd Thursday starting from Thursday, February 15. Activity group for people with dementia and carers at Thurso Rugby Club 2-3.30pm.
  • Last Wednesday of the month Carer Support Group in conjunction with Connecting Carers open to all unpaid carers. Held in Thurso Library 2-3pm. Come along for support and advice, chat to other carers.
  • Monthly Carer Education Sessions held once weekly for four weeks, places must be booked in advance available in Thurso and Wick. Next sessions to be held in March 2024.

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