With 55,000 Irish people living with dementia, and half a million living in families affected by dementia the launch of the National Dementia Awareness Campaign – Understand Together was welcomed by Minister for Mental Health and Older People Helen McEntee who stressed the importance of this scheme:
Each year 4,000 people in Ireland develop a dementia – that’s 11 people every day. Currently, there are approximately 55,000 people living with dementia in the Republic of Ireland. Dementia prevalence is set to increase in line with our ageing population, underscoring the need for us as a nation to acknowledge and understand the condition and its impact on individuals and society as a whole…I would urge everybody to embrace this campaign. Your support and that of the entire community will make a difference to the thousands of people living with dementia, their families and carers in Ireland today”
The campaign is a 3 year public information campaign being developed by the HSE with backing from over 30 leading Irish businesses and organisations, and is one of the priorities of the National Dementia Strategy Implementation Programme. The purpose of the campaign is to build awareness and understanding around dementia. It aims to de-stigmatise dementia awareness out of the shadows and encourage people to talk about their experiences of the condition. It will highlight the people behind the statistics and show that there are things that we can do together to help build inclusive and supportive communities for people with dementia, their carers, families and friends. The ultimate aim is to create an Ireland that embraces and includes people living with dementia, one which displays solidarity with them and their loved ones.
Professor Brian Lawlor, Trinity College Dublin and chair of the campaign’s steering group said, “Research undertaken for the campaign shows that fear and stigma surround dementia, resulting in unnecessary loneliness and isolation for people living with dementia and for their families. It can also result in delays in seeking help and diagnosis with people missing out on available supports and services as a result. These services and supports can allow people to live well with dementia for many years while maintaining their dignity and quality of life.”
Ronan Smith, who is living with dementia and is a member of the campaign steering group said:
“Life doesn’t end when dementia begins. People with dementia can and do live meaningful, active lives for many years. Diagnosis doesn’t mean we immediately lose our skills and abilities, our need to belong and share or, above all, our sense of dignity. Respecting the diversity of the dementia experience and the individuality of people who are living with it is a vital step in recognising that the person is a lot more than the condition.”
Margot McCambridge, who cared for her husband and is a member of the campaign steering group spoke at the launch about her perspective saying, “The caring experience is complicated. It can be rewarding. It can also be hugely difficult at times. Support is needed for the carers as much as for the person with dementia. If the carer is supported, this in itself supports the person with dementia.”
For further information please visit www.understandtogether.ie