Dementia 2013 report shows how urgent it is to join Dementia Friends

Laura Cook, Policy Officer at Alzheimer's Society

Laura Cook, Policy Officer at Alzheimer’s Society

Laura Cook, Policy Officer at Alzheimer’s Society, was a researcher on an important new report on how people are living with dementia. She highlights the main findings and tells us why it is important that you join Dementia Friends.

Dementia 2013: The hidden voice of loneliness was launched on 9 April. It is the second annual report from Alzheimer’s Society that investigates how people are living with dementia. This year’s report has a particular focus on loneliness among people with dementia.

When I started the research for Dementia 2013, I hadn’t realised the extent to which people with dementia feel socially isolated. I interviewed several people with dementia who live alone to hear how they manage to live independently with dementia. It was clear from all of them that they feel lonely and would really appreciate more contact from the people around them.  For example, a gentleman I spoke to lives in sheltered accommodation.  He hated sitting in all day staring at the walls, so he goes for a walk into town every day.  He says there is no point in looking at the clock – he has no need to know the time because he has nothing to do.  He feels sad about this and often finds that the days just drag on.

What was also striking was the number of people who said they have very little contact with their neighbours. Responses to the survey of over 500 people with dementia found that nearly one-fifth of people spoke to their neighbours less than once a month.  The people I interviewed said the relationships with their neighbours often consisted only of a greeting, and that neighbours weren’t willing to be more involved.  This can be a great worry to someone with dementia if there is no-one nearby to help in an emergency.

We commissioned a YouGov poll as part of the research, which asked over 2,000 people about their perceptions of people with dementia living alone. 19% of respondents said they did not know if they would feel comfortable talking to a person with dementia. This backs up what people with dementia say and reinforces the need for people to understand a little bit more about what it is like to live with dementia.

Fortunately, there is a good basis to start from. The YouGov poll revealed that 29% of people do not think there are any barriers to talking to a person with dementia.

The challenge now is to encourage these people, and those who feel the same way, to become Dementia Friends, to help to remove the fear and stigma that surrounds this illness. We want to be sure that, in the future, no person with dementia should fear having to cope with a problem alone. Please join Dementia Friends today.

2 thoughts on “Dementia 2013 report shows how urgent it is to join Dementia Friends

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