Poll findings highlight the need to raise dementia awareness

One in three people over 65 will die with dementia yet new research from the Alzheimer’s Society has found that almost a third (31%) of people would not know how to get information and support if they received a diagnosis.

A YouGov survey published Tuesday, 6 July 2010 to mark Dementia Awareness Week found that after a diagnosis:

  • 17% of people would want support but would have no one to turn to
  • 70% of people would be frightened, 60% would feel depressed and 35% angry
  • Over one in four (27%) would feel lonely and one in 10 (10%) would feel ashamed
  • More than four out of five (84%) people would turn to a professional for support

This Dementia Awareness Week Alzheimer’s Society is encouraging people to ‘remember the person’ by looking beyond someone’s diagnosis of dementia and engaging with them.

Debbie Donnison, South West Area Manager for Alzheimer’s Society, says,

“It is terrible that so many people would not know where to turn if they diagnosed with dementia. One in three people over 65 with die with the condition. We need better awareness and information so that a diagnosis of dementia is not such a frightening experience.”

39% of respondents think people with dementia lose their personality. However, evidence suggests that people with dementia can still have hobbies, likes and dislikes, just the same as everyone else but it is often their dementia which prevents them from expressing themselves the way they used to.

Tony Lewis, 67, from Redruth who has Alzheimer’s disease, says,

“I was upset when I got my diagnosis of dementia in 1999 at the age of 57 but continued to work for a further 8 years until my retirement at 65. There are things I can no longer do as well as I used to but I am still able to travel and do many of the things I enjoy.”

More than seven out of 10 (76%) people say they would turn to family or friends for support if they were diagnosed with dementia. Yet the charity hears countless stories of people with dementia losing friends following a diagnosis. Research by the Department of Health earlier this year found many people fear and misunderstand dementia causing them to avoid people with the condition or treat them differently.

Debbie Donnison continues,

“Having dementia can be an isolating experience for all involved but there are little things you can do to support a family living with dementia. From popping round for a cup of tea and a chat or helping out around the house, there are many ways you can show you care this Dementia Awareness Week. Friends and family have a strong role to play in helping people with dementia. We must tackle the stigma surrounding the condition if we are to ensure people with dementia are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

Alzheimer’s Society has a number of events happening locally to celebrate Dementia Awareness Week. Interviews with people with dementia, carers and spokespeople are available on request.

Notes to editors:

  • All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2029 adults, of which 178 were situated in the South West. Fieldwork was undertaken between 28 May and 1 June 2010. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
  • Dementia Awareness Week™ runs from Sunday 4 – Saturday 10 July, 2010
  • Alzheimer’s Society has produced ten top tips on how the public can support a family living with dementia. For more information, please visit alzheimers.org.uk/remembertheperson
  • One in three people over 65 will die with dementia.
  • Alzheimer’s Society research shows that 750,000 people in the UK have a form of dementia, more than half have Alzheimer’s disease. In just 15 years a million people will be living with dementia. This will soar to 1.7 million people by 2051.
  • Alzheimer’s Society champions the rights of people living with dementia and the millions of people who care for them.
  • Alzheimer’s Society works in England, Wales and Northern Ireland
  • Alzheimer’s Society supports people to live well with dementia today and funds research to find a cure for tomorrow. We rely on voluntary donations to continue our vital work. You can donate now by calling 0845 306 0898 or visiting alzheimers.org.uk
  • Alzheimer’s Society provides a National Dementia Helpline, the number is 0845 300 0336 or visit alzheimers.org.uk

Further information:
Contact Sian Evans, External Affairs Manager 0117 967 3020 sian.evans@alzheimers.org.uk