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Bernard O’Hagan looked after his mum for nine years after a dementia diagnosis. He is now a member of the National Dementia Carers Action Network (NDCAN) and shares his experiences of the Alzheimer Scotland Annual Conference:

My mum was diagnosed with dementia in 2006 and I looked after until she passed away in 2015. On the whole, I would say I had a very positive experience thanks to the great support I received from my employers, professional carers and social workers. But I know not everyone has the same experience.

For me, the Alzheimer Scotland Annual Conference gives you the chance to connect with other people caring for someone with dementia. Sharing your thoughts with someone who has similar experiences helps you see that you are not the only one going through this – that in itself is so reassuring.

Ahead of my first time coming along to the Alzheimer Scotland Annual Conference I have to admit, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

When I think of conferences, I can’t help but jump to the idea to the very dry conferences of political parties. But for me personally, the Alzheimer Scotland Annual Conference was really fantastic.

People from all walks of life turned up on the day – from people with dementia and their family, to academics and professionals. What made the conference really stand out to me were the people who made up the event.  Everyone I spoke to and heard from on the day seemed genuinely and mutually interested in each other and their experiences. There was a real buzz about the place and it was clear that while we all had different experiences of dementia, we all had the same aim: to support and help people living with dementia.

I joined the National Dementia Carers Action Network in 2015 so to me, the conference is also fantastic for keeping up to date with current issues affecting dementia care and support in Scotland. With main speakers who are at the forefront of their sectors, to Scottish Government Ministers, I felt the conference really helped with my understanding of the issues facing people living with dementia.

One of the highlights for me was learning about Alzheimer Scotland’s approach to policy and practice in dementia care, as well as listening to a carer’s experience of Self Directed Support and the need for more work to be done in this area. Personally, this year I’m looking forward to hearing from the main speakers this year and putting my questions to the panel.

Not only can you learn more about current issues, but it’s a great opportunity to meet those with similar experiences and find out more about the work of groups like NDCAN.  The Alzheimer Scotland Annual Conference has something for everyone who has an experience of dementia.

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