'Friendly Face' for Flintshire under-70 dementia patients

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Teresa Davies explains how her dementia diagnosis hit her

A project to help people under the age of 70 diagnosed with dementia has begun in Flintshire.

The Friendly Face scheme was set up by Teresa Davies, 64, who was diagnosed with dementia five years ago.

New patients will be able to chat with someone else who has been diagnosed and understands what they are feeling.

The Alzheimer's Society has previously said experts fear the numbers of sufferers could rise by 40% in the next 10 years.

Figures show about 50 people a year in Flintshire, aged under 70, are diagnosed with dementia.

Ms Davies said the idea for the new help group came after talking through her fears and concerns with someone who was adjusting to a life with dementia.

"The professionals and services are very good and you do need them," she said.

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Image caption,
The project is aimed to help new dementia patients cope with the diagnoses

"But professionals tell you what you can't do. We want to say, 'yes, you can still do that. Let's show us what we can do and not what we can't do'.

"And you're still the same person that you were the day before you were diagnosed. You've still got a life, you are still you, and that's my message."

A specialist day centre, the Old Brewery in Shotton, provides advice and support to younger dementia patients in Flintshire.

The county also runs Memory Cafes to bring together people with memory loss and their carers with entertainment.

Senior carer Ian Woolley, who helped Ms Davies set up the Friendly Face initiative, said that it can be "completely devastating" for people to receive a dementia diagnosis at a relatively young age.

Initially, it will be Ms Davies and another woman, who was diagnosed with dementia at the age of 61, who will arrange to meet new sufferers for a chat.

But the hope is that a network will slowly build up so more dementia sufferers are on hand to share their experiences with others.