Dementia: Understand Together campaign launched
A new TV, radio and online advertising campaign aims to increase understanding and support for people living with dementia.
The Dementia: Understand Together initiative tells the stories of Maureen O’Hara and Paddy Butler, both from Kilkenny, who have generously shared their experience of living with dementia for the campaign.
Only 1 in 4 of us are confident that we understand dementia, and nearly half of us are unsure we could stay friends with someone with dementia
The campaign aims to increase understanding and keep friendships, community and family connections alive, so that more people can live well with dementia.
Professor Brian Lawlor, Consultant Psychiatrist and Chair of the Dementia: Understand Together campaign said: “There are an estimated 55,000 people living with dementia in Ireland today and this number is expected to more than double to 113,000 by 2036.
Half a million people in Ireland have had a family member with dementia, yet we know that despite this widespread experience, only 1 in 4 of us is confident that we understand dementia.”
He added: “According to people living with dementia, fear and uncertainty often leads to friends, family and neighbours feeling awkward or embarrassed, so often they say and do nothing. It can leave people with dementia and their loved ones feeling alone. This stigma was reflected in our quantitative research, which shows that close on half of us are unsure we can stay close friends with someone with dementia.”
“I Don’t Like ‘Wasting’ Time. I Like ‘Spending’ Time”
Maureen O’Hara, age 57, from Clongowen, Kilkenny, is one of the two people living with dementia to feature in the first phase of the campaign. For Maureen, who was diagnosed with Young Onset Dementia in 2014, staying connected with neighbours and friends is all-important. This connectivity allows her to live well and independently with the condition:
“For me the diagnosis wasn’t a shock as I had been living it. It was nearly a relief to know. What’s most important for me is being connected with people. It’s about being out there ̶ whether that’s enjoying hill-walking or keeping in touch with neighbours and friends. I don’t like wasting time ̶ rather, I like spending time. It makes my life worthwhile.”
Paddy Butler, age 70, and also from Kilkenny, was diagnosed with dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease in recent years. For Paddy, it was important to be up-front with people about his diagnosis:
“When I was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, at the start, I didn’t know what I was doing, what was happening. I asked myself do I hide it or do I be straight up? Kilkenny is a small place and I know a lot of people. I decided I had to go and face it and to be straight with people. Trying to hide things would have been worse. It should be out there. More people talk to me now than before and everyone says ‘hello’ when I pass by. It’s important to show that people with Alzheimer’s can keep going. I like to keep up my interests as best I can. I like to go walking, to go for a cuppa, to go to Nolan Park to support the Cats. You have to live your life.”
For more information on the Dementia: Understand Together initiative, visit www.understandtogether.ie or Freephone 1800 341 341.