World Alzheimer Month takes place this September
Ahead of World Alzheimer Month this September, latest figures compiled by the Health Service Executive have revealed that there is an estimated 2,451 people living with dementia in County Donegal.
The publication of the data comes as the Dementia: Understand Together campaign is urging members of the public to consider becoming a Dementia Champion and joining the network of 340 other champions across the country who promote inclusivity and action in their communities.
The campaign is also taking the opportunity to highlight the role technology plays in the lives of people with dementia particularly during this time of Covid-19.
Dementia to double by 2045
There are over 400 different types of dementia, the most common of which are Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.
It’s estimated that there are over 64,000 people currently living with dementia in Ireland and this figure is set to more than double to over 150,000 by 2045.
Each year more than 11,000 people develop dementia in Ireland – that’s approximately 30 people every day.
Symptoms of dementia include memory loss, confusion with time or place, difficulty communicating, changes in behaviour and issues with problem-solving.
There are a number of ways that people can reduce their risk of dementia – by eating healthily, exercising regularly, not smoking, having regular blood pressure checks, avoiding excess alcohol, keeping socially connected and challenging ourselves mentally.
We are the Champions
For Dr Suzanne Timmons, consultant geriatrician and clinical lead of the HSE’s National Dementia Office, World Alzheimer Month offers a valuable reminder of the importance of reaching out to people with dementia.
“For people with dementia, we know that maintaining involvement in activities and social contact are vital for maintaining physical and mental health and wellbeing.
"With the arrival of Covid-19 in Ireland, recent months have been very difficult for everyone.
For people with dementia, many of whom have had to cocoon or stay at home to minimise their risk, they have been especially difficult, depriving them of friendship and routine.
September is World Alzheimer Month and an ideal opportunity to reach out and support people living with dementia and their families in our neighbourhoods.
A first step can be checking in on someone you know with dementia and asking how you can help. It will make the world of difference to them.
“For those with a little more time to give, I would encourage you to think about becoming a Dementia Champion in your community.
Champions are the spirit of the Dementia: Understand Together campaign.
They work in their communities by sharing information, providing training, and creating inclusive services, and by inspiring sports and other community groups to embrace people with dementia.
The campaign is here to support you to take the first steps on this rewarding and hugely impactful journey – you can find out more at www.understandtogether.ie”
Role of Technology
From family video calls to online shopping, due to Covid-19 everyone has had to adapt in different ways. For those living with dementia, technology has played an increasing role in helping them to stay connected, with online dementia cafés bringing people together for a virtual cuppa, and dementia-inclusive choirs offering some musical respite.
Technology can also help day-to-day living and a range of assistive technologies can be purchased to help people with dementia maintain their independence, to continue doing what is important to them, and to feel safe at home.
These technologies range from picture phones, personal alarms and night lights with sensors, to medication reminders, locators for items such as keys, and talking photo albums.
For information on what technology best suits their situation, people can get in touch with their nearest HSE Memory Technology Resource Room and speak to an occupational therapist for free expert advice – telephone (087) 1090799.
The Dementia: Understand Together campaign is led by the HSE in partnership with the Alzheimer Society of Ireland and Age Friendly Ireland.
For information on supports such as a local service-finder and weekly Virtual Dementia Cafés for people living with dementia and family carers, as well as information on how to become a Dementia Champion in your community, visit www.understandtogether.ie or Freefone 1800 341 341 (Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm, Saturday 10am to 4pm).
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