Attitudes to dementia revealed in World Alzheimer Report 2019

Longford Leader Reporter

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ASI staff, advocates and volunteers outside Leinster House asking for government to fund more community services in July 2019  Picture: Karen Morgan

ASI staff, advocates and volunteers outside Leinster House asking for government to fund more community services in July 2019 Picture: Karen Morgan

The world’s largest dementia study by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI), which consisted of 70,000 people across 155 countries released to coincide with World Alzheimer’s Day on Saturday, September 21 has revealed investment is needed to urgently fund the service gap by providing a minimum standard of community services in Ireland.

The survey on attitudes to dementia, called ‘World Alzheimer Report 2019: Attitudes to dementia’, reveals a startling lack of global knowledge around dementia, with two thirds of people still thinking the disease is a normal part of ageing rather than a neurodegenerative disorder and 95 per cent of participants think they could develop dementia in their lifetime.

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In Ireland, only 2.7% of health care professionals and 6.7% of the general public agree that there are adequate community services in stark contrast to other countries. Ireland is highlighted in relation to high levels of concern among the general public that healthcare providers (which includes GPs, Nurses, Psychiatrists, Neurologists) are ignoring people with dementia (57.8% in Ireland), while the average for Europe is much lower at 29.2%.

Country-specific data from 48 countries indicate that Ireland is fifth last in the general public section with 6.7% of the general public in Ireland believing there are adequate community services for people living with dementia and for carers – this is in the bottom 10% of the 48 countries surveyed on this question with the highest being China 77.8%; the lowest is Iran 0%.

Summary of main points from ‘World Alzheimer’s Report 2019: Attitudes to dementia’:

  • Two in three people still think dementia is a normal part of ageing.
  • Sixty-two per cent of healthcare practitioners still think it is a normal part of ageing
  • Every three seconds someone in the world develops dementia.
  • Ninety-five per cent think they will develop dementia in their lifetime, while 78% are concerned about developing dementia at some point.
  • One in four people think there is nothing you can do about dementia. Clearly messages on the importance of risk reduction shown in a WHO report are not getting through to the public.
  • Approx 20% of respondents would keep their dementia diagnosis a secret when meeting people
  • Almost 62% of healthcare providers worldwide think dementia is part of normal ageing. The message that dementia is not part of normal ageing but a disease, is clearly not getting through to healthcare providers.
  • Seventy-five per cent of carers globally say they are often stressed by caring responsibilities even whilst expressing positive sentiments about their role and 50% of carers said their health suffered as a result of their caring responsibilities. Carers need more support and respite, a finding also borne out in the De-Stress study of Irish carers.

Download the full report on www.alzheimer.ie