West Norfolk has one of the highest proportions of people living with dementia in the country, a new study has revealed.
Local health chiefs say they are looking to develop an action alliance to raise awareness of the condition, as part of its work on the issue.
But researchers say there is still a “worrying lack of public understanding” about the condition and how the problem is likely to grow.
Figures published by Alzheimer’s Research UK show that 3,267 people living in the area served by the West Norfolk clinical commissioning group (CCG) have dementia.
That equates to 1.87 per cent of thje total population, the 10th highest proportion in the country.
A separate table for Parliamentary constituencies shows North Norfolk has the third highest proportion under that measurement.
And the charity, which is hosting an information session for MPs at Westminster later this week, says more needs to be done to raise public knowledge of the illness and increase research into it.
Dr Matthew Norton, Alzheimer’s Research UK director of policy and strategy, said: “Dementia is our greatest medical challenge and, with our ageing population, the number of people affected by this devastating condition is only going to rise.
“Today, one in three people have a family member or close friend with dementia. Despite this, there is still a worrying lack of public understanding about the condition.
“One of our biggest challenges is to empower people with the knowledge that this cruel and unforgiving condition can be defeated.
“Dementia is not an inevitable part of ageing, it is caused by diseases. Through the power of research, we know we can change the outlook for people with dementia – but to achieve this, research must have the backing of the public and parliament.
“The last government made dementia a national priority and we have made great strides towards finding an effective treatment and this momentum must continue.
“These figures underline the devastating impact dementia is having on our communities, and we hope it will inspire people to join our movement to bring an end to the fear, harm and heartbreak caused by dementia.”
Although the South Norfolk CCG leads the commissioning of mental health services across the county, the West Norfolk group says it is providing extra support locally.
A spokesman said the organisation had been rated as “dementia friendly” under an Alzheimer’s Society initiative that encourages individuals, organisations and businesses to do more to help people with the condition.
She added: “We are working with the Alzheimer’s Society towards how we can establish and support a Dementia Action Alliance in West Norfolk to raise public awareness and understanding.”
The CCG says it has also re-established a Dementia Network, which includes representatives of patients’ groups and the voluntary sector.