Dementia support needs to become an election issue as numbers set to rise

The number of Irish people with dementia will rise 40% in the term of the next government, says the Alzheimer Society of Ireland (ASI).

There are 48,000 people with dementia in Ireland, but that number is expected to have increased to 68,216 people by 2020, and to 132,000 by 2041, said the ASI, which yesterday launched its general election campaign.

The Vote to Remember campaign, available at www.votetoremember.ie, urges candidates to pledge their support to prioritising dementia, and asks for the public’s support by voting for those candidates.

“Dementia affects every community, every family, and must be a priority in the new Programme for Government,” said the ASI. The Irish health and social care system fail to support people with dementia, and their carers, in their own homes and communities, it added.

“This year alone, every day in Ireland, 11 people will develop dementia,” said Colette Kelleher, the society’s CEO. “The ASI’s Vote to Remember campaign is asking candidates to renew, reform, and resource the National Dementia Strategy ,which was published in December, 2014, to address this growing demand for dementia care.

“The majority of people with dementia [over 63%] who live in our communities wish to continue to live at home.

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“We regularly hear from those with dementia, and their family carers, about the lack of support they received following their diagnosis. Improving dementia services is an essential part of political and social reform in Ireland. The quality of dementia services has a major impact on us all. It is a major constituency issue and must be a political priority.

“The Programme for Government must, therefore, include a specific reference to action and investment on dementia. We are asking candidates to remember people with dementia by pledging their support for the full implementation of the NDS and the development of a second strategy that will ensure people with dementia are supported to live well in the community.”

Chairwoman of the ASI’s Irish Dementia Working Group, Helen Rochford Brennan, was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s at the age of 61.

“I am a person with dementia,” she said. “When I was diagnosed, I was very much alone, and lived through a very sad, dark and lonely time. There were no services in place for me and nowhere to turn. My family and I need supports, so I can continue to live at home, which is my basic human right.”

www.votetoremember.ie 

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