The latest World Alzheimer Report released today for World Alzheimer’s Day by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) reveals that nearly one in four people with dementia (24%) hide or conceal their diagnosis citing stigma as the main reason.
Furthermore, 40% of people with dementia report not being included in everyday life. What is startling is that nearly two out of three people with dementia and their carers believe there is a lack of understanding of dementia in their countries.
The new report also reveals that:
Both people with dementia and carers admitted they had stopped themselves forming close relationships as it was too difficult.
Education, information and awareness were identified as priorities to help reduce the stigma of dementia.
Alzheimers New Zealand executive director, Catherine Hall, says the report indicates that stigma remains a major barrier to people affected by dementia getting the help they need.
"Our biggest fear is that people are struggling with this disease without the care and support they deserve," says Hall.
The findings from this report also back up Alzheimers New Zealand’s belief that stigma plays a significant role in why people are not seeking a diagnosis for their dementia. A campaign, led by Alzheimers New Zealand, has been launched this month to encourage people to be more open about dementia and overcome any anxiety that could lead to this delay in seeking medical help. The campaign message is ‘the sooner we know, the sooner we can help’ because a timely diagnosis will often mean a person can keep living independently for much longer. Visit: www.wecanhelp.org.nz for more information.
One of the key recommendations to come out of the new report was for Governments to implement national dementia plans and increase research into how to address the issue of stigma.
Alzheimers New Zealand urges the New Zealand Government to adopt its National Dementia Strategy, launched in May 2010. The strategy identifies key areas needing investment including early diagnosis and management of the disease, appropriate quality services, better supports for carers who provide in-home care, and development of a skilled work-force.
Alzheimers New Zealand executive director, Catherine Hall says, "dementia needs to be recognised as a national health priority in order to adequately fund the sector and to best prepare for the significant impact of dementia in the future. As the population ages, numbers will increase and the costs will grow. If New Zealand is not prepared, and does not overcome the issues of stigma, we will not be able to respond to this rapidly escalating challenge."
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