Blackpool is at the centre of a dementia crisis with more people in the town suffering from the disease than anywhere else in Lancashire.
The most recent statistics compiled by the Alzheimer’s Society show 2,082 people in the resort have been diagnosed with the condition.
We have an ageing population and there must be a concerted effort to raise awareness so that people are equipped to recognise the signs of dementia within family members and friends
And with Blackpool’s population growing older, experts today warned pressures on health services and families will only worsen from the “heartbraking” condition.
Today, at the start of Dementia Awareness Week, Dr Arif Rajpura, Blackpool Council’s Director of Public Health and Chairman of Blackpool Fairness Commission, said: “Dementia is a huge issue on the Fylde coast. We’re likely to get more people with dementia.
“We have an ageing population and there must be a concerted effort to raise awareness so that people are equipped to recognise the signs of dementia within family members and friends.”
Wyre has the second highest amount in Lancashire with 2,070 sufferers, and there are 1,497 people living with the condition in Fylde.
Dementia - an incurable condition which gets progressively worse and causes memory loss and difficulties with thinking and language - is on the rise throughout the whole of the UK.
It is becoming increasingly common as more people, particularly females, are living longer. The average life expectancy for women in Blackpool is 80 while men live to an average of 74.
The condition recently overtook heart disease and cancer as the most common cause of death in women.
Courtney Bickerdike, clinical matron at Clifton hospital in Lytham, said: “Dementia is on the increase in this country and the problem is larger in Blackpool than anywhere else in the north west.
“It is a heart-breaking condition, which profoundly affects not just the sufferers themselves but the people around them as well.
“We need to do more to help the many people affected because this isn’t a problem that is going to go away - is getting worse all the time as people live longer.”
The Alzheimer’s Society admitted the condition is “a particular problem” in Blackpool.
A spokesman said: “Dementia is a condition which affects so many people.
“More and more people developing the condition as the population ages, so it is a situation that is only going to increase - and it is a particular issue in Blackpool.
“People living with dementia can benefit enormously from the right support. Although a dementia diagnosis can be devastating it should not be regarded as the end but the time to make the right plans and get the right support is in place.”
Dr Arif Rajpura added: “We have an ageing population, so there needs to be a concerted effort to raise awareness among people to recognise the signs of dementia.
“We’re likely to get more people with dementia.
“People need to spend more time helping or supporting friends or relatives, helping your own workplace to be more dementia friendly.
“As a society, this is about everyone, all members of the community, businesses and organisations to be dementia friendly because more of us are going to come into contact with sufferers.
“What we know is that people with lifestyle issues that lead to cardio vascular disease can increase incidents of dementia so leading a healthy lifestyle will reduce the risk of it.”