A WOMAN whose mother and grandmother both developed dementia is calling for greater awareness and understanding of the condition.

Claire Carberry, a partner at Brighton-based lawyers DMH Stallard said it is vital both patients and their families are as fully prepared as possible to help them cope with what happens as Dementia Awareness week comes to an end.

Mrs Carberry is a Dementia Friends Champion, which means she volunteers to encourage others to make a positive difference to people living with dementia in their community.

Her mother Barbara, 85, is in the late stages of the condition and being cared for in a specialist nursing home.

Mrs Carberry, 42, believes her mother first started showing signs of a problem when she moved to Seaford about six years ago.

She said: “When she moved, she struggled to find her way round and to meet people. Looking back, this was probably as a result of the start of dementia.

“The ‘big-bang’, almost literally, was when she left the bathroom taps on at home.

“Water eventually started pouring through the ceiling, fusing the electrics and making her home uninhabitable.

“She ended up staying with us and it was only then that I fully realised how bad she was.”

Mrs Carberry, from Lewes, said a key issue for dementia patients and their relatives is funding as care is expensive and social services have limited resources.

She said it was vital people affected prepared themselves by addressing dementia directly and not bury their heads in the sand as it is vital they find out their options and start planning ahead.

Mrs Carberry is also calling for more education for everyone about the condition, its physical and mental impact and how to communicate with patients.

Organisations like the Alzheimer's Society can help by providing information and support.

Mrs Carberry said: “I was lucky. “I do this for a living, so although I didn’t know all the answers, I knew where to go.

“You can’t cater for all eventualities but you need to plan for those you can.

“If possible, have that difficult conversation with your parents now. Have they got wills and powers of attorney in place already?

“What do they want to do about their care as they get older? Are their finances in order? It might be a tricky conversation now, but it will be a lot trickier when ‘in theory’ becomes reality.”

As part of Dementia Awareness Week the Alzheimer's Society is encouraging anyone who is worried about dementia to confront their concerns and get in touch with them.

If you're worried that you, or someone close to you, might have dementia, call the National Dementia Helpline on 0300 222 1122 or email helpline@alzheimers.org.uk for advice and support.