With more than 800,000 dementia sufferers living in the UK today and estimates of over 1 million sufferers in 15 years it’s not surprising that many of us are concerned.
Between April 13th and 16th an on-line joint poll commissioned by Alzheimer’s Society and Saga Homecare was done involving 4,276 people across the UK.
The report published today found that dementia worries nearly two thirds of us.
The YouGov survey – released to mark Dementia Awareness Week™ – found that 63 per cent of people say they are worried about dementia in some way. The majority of people (61per cent) are worried about either themselves or someone they know developing dementia in later life. Yet despite their fears less than a fifth (16 per cent) of people want to know more about the condition, with 18-24 year olds the most keen to learn more (25 per cent) in comparison to only 15 per cent of over 55 year olds.
The poll also found that those aged 55 or over are the most worried (66 per cent) but dementia is even worrying over half of those aged between 18-24 (61 per cent). Additionally women are much more concerned about dementia than men with 70 per cent worrying about the condition in some way in comparison to 56 per cent of men.
Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Society, said:
‘Dementia is the biggest challenge facing the UK today so it’s not surprising that people are so worried. There is currently no cure and people aren’t getting the care they deserve. However we know that with the right support people can live well with the condition for a number of years.
‘This Dementia Awareness Week™ we need to stop worrying and start understanding dementia. Whether you have five minutes or half an hour please take some time to learn about dementia. Only through knowing more will we ensure the people with the condition are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.’
Caroline Woodhead, 55, from North Yorkshire, has Alzheimer’s disease and is one of the three faces of Dementia Awareness Week™. She said:
‘Before I was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease I used to worry about it too. Now I have it. I’d rather I didn’t have it but I don’t dwell on it. People don’t realise it’s possible to live well with dementia. I was diagnosed at the age of 52 and I still enjoy life – I can sing, drive, go for walks and use a computer. I would encourage everyone to find out more about the condition this Dementia Awareness Week™. By understanding dementia better, we can break down these barriers and show that life does not end with a diagnosis.’
Dementia Awareness Week™ is being held in partnership with Saga Homecare. Saga Homecare, which is part of the larger Saga group, provides care at home for people who want to maintain their independence and stay in their own homes.
John Ivers, Chief Executive of Saga Homecare said:
‘We are delighted to be partnering with Alzheimer’s Society in raising awareness of dementia. Saga Homecare has extensive experience of providing ongoing support to people with this condition and we are harnessing our resources to help Alzheimer’s Society make an impact with this worthwhile campaign.’
This Dementia Awareness Week™ Alzheimer’s Society is encouraging people to ‘remember the person’ by looking beyond someone’s diagnosis and engaging with them. The charity is helping people to learn more about dementia by promoting five key things everyone should know.
Sue Phelps, Acting Director for Alzheimer’s Society in Wales, said:
‘Dementia can have a huge impact on the lives of those affected and there is currently no cure, so it’s not surprising that people are so worried. However, a lot of anxiety comes from a lack of knowledge about the help and treatments that are available to support people to live well for longer.
‘This Dementia Awareness Week™ we need to stop worrying and start understanding dementia. Whether you have five minutes or half an hour, please take some time to find out more about the condition. Only through knowing more will we ensure that people with the condition are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.’
Dan Papworth (74) from Llandysul, West Wales was diagnosed with dementia two years ago. Dan says:
‘It all started three years ago when I was driving through Llandysul and I suddenly thought that I needed to go towards Cardigan rather than going home so I decided to drive there instead. I had no idea why I’d done that and as I was driving I decided to pull over as I didn’t know where I was. This had never happened before and it really frightened me. I’d noticed some slight relapses of memory before this but nothing major.
‘My wife and I retired to Llandysul from the Midlands and we have a seven acre garden which is perfect for someone with dementia. The garden lets my mind relax. I now feel that I’ve come to terms with it and I’m OK. When I’m in the house, I forget things and I get annoyed but being outside is different. I go out for meals, I still drive, I meet with friends and I live life to the full. My wife is a qualified nurse so understands me and is great support.’
5 things everyone should know about dementia:
1. It’s not a natural part of growing old.
2. It’s caused by diseases of the brain. The most common of these is Alzheimer’s.
3. It’s not just about losing your memory – it can affect thinking, communicating and doing everyday tasks.
4. It’s possible to live well with it.
5. There’s more to a person than the dementia.
Other key findings from the poll include:
• 24 per cent of people said they are not worried about dementia at all
• 23 per cent of people believe dementia is a result of old age
• 19 per cent of people believe there is nothing you can do to reduce your risk
• Only 18 per cent of people realise dementia is a terminal illness
• 21 per cent of people think they have a good knowledge of dementia
Alzheimer’s Society provides a National Dementia Helpline. The number is 0845 300 0336 or 028 9066 4100 in Northern Ireland, or visit www.alzheimers.org.uk