Published Monday, 26 March 2012
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Dealing with dementia
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More than 18,000 people in the region have dementia, and a new report from the Alzheimer's Society has found that nearly half of all people with the condition have lost friends since they were diagnosed.
Dementia 2012: A National Challenge, which was launched in England, Wales and Northern Ireland on Monday, also found 66% of people are lonely, while close to 80% feel anxious or depressed.
It shows that quality of life for people with dementia remains extremely varied. Most people waited over a year for diagnosis and struggle to access quality care.
People with dementia reported difficulties keeping a control over their daily life, spending time with friends and family, socialising or enjoying hobbies as they used to.
They feel this is a result of a lack of understanding of dementia in our communities, rather than as a result of the condition itself.
At the launch of Dementia 2012, Prime Minister David Cameron outlined plans to give a boost to dementia research, address quality of dementia care and increase understanding of the condition.
Bernadine McCrory, from Alzheimer's Society in Northern Ireland, said: "Although much is being done to improve services, too many people with dementia are struggling to get support and are left battling depression, loneliness or anxiety. This is unacceptable."
People with dementia want to be connected with their families, their friends and their communities. People with dementia want to feel that society values them.
"Everyone of us has a role to play in making this a reality. Businesses, community leaders and individuals in their work life or their personal life can help make Northern Ireland a Dementia Friendly Community and end the exclusion of people with dementia," she added.
Michael Dunn is a former judge on TV's Northern Ireland House of the Year programme. His mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in October 2011.
"It's very clear to me that raising awareness of dementia and tackling stigma associated with it have a huge part to play in supporting people to live well with the condition," he explained.
"A person with dementia who loved company is still going to enjoy socialising if they are supported to meet up with family, friends and neighbours."
Alzheimer's Society is calling for a radical shift in attitudes and behaviour to ensure people with dementia get the support and respect they need to live well with their condition.