Research shows people with dementia are suffering from discrimination

Newcastle Libraries run memory room programs for people with dementia. Stockton residents can access this program.

 

DEMENTIA Action Week 2021 runs from 20-26 September.

Tuesday 21 September is World Alzheimer’s Day.

Recent research conducted by Dementia Australia has identified that discrimination against people living with dementia is real and so entrenched that even those at risk expect to experience some form of discrimination.

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The Dementia Action Week Report ‘Discrimination and dementia – enough is enough’, has found more than two-thirds of people living with dementia anticipated they might experience discrimination.

Maree McCabe AM, CEO Dementia Australia, said the research shows that people living with dementia and carers experience discrimination that can lead to social isolation, loneliness and poor mental health.

COVID-19 has been found to have intensified these experiences.

“We need to change this experience for people impacted by dementia.

“People living with dementia, their families and carers tell us enough is enough,” Ms McCabe said.

“Now more than ever we need to shift our thinking around dementia to stop adding discrimination to the symptoms that people with dementia experience.

“The good news is a little support does make a big difference and there are small actions we can all take to make a change for the better.”

Bobby Redman lives with dementia and has shared her story as part of this year’s Dementia Action Week campaign.

“Although discrimination is basically about ignorance, it doesn’t take away the sting,” Ms Redman said.

“Just because I have dementia it doesn’t mean I am stupid.”

Key findings from the research about dementia, discrimination, and the impacts of COVID-19 include; 75% of respondents who identified themselves as at risk of dementia indicated that they expect they will be treated differently if they are diagnosed and 91% of people who have a loved one with dementia indicated other people don’t keep in touch with that person as they used to.

Others felt that they were patronised and treated as though they are not smart.

The impact of COVID has been great on those with dementia with 34% of family carers and 30% of people living with dementia indicated their physical wellbeing had declined due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“Research demonstrates that this discriminatory behaviour impacts all aspects of a person’s life; from the way they engage socially to the types of services they access and receive and the way their human rights are interpreted,” Ms McCabe said.

As part of Dementia Action Week, Dementia Australia is sharing simple and practical tips to give a little support to a person living with dementia; give a little support to a carer, friend or family member of a person living with dementia and support health care professionals to make their practice more dementia-friendly.

More than 900 people responded to the survey, including people living with dementia, family carers, family/friends of a person with dementia, healthcare professionals and those not impacted by dementia.

 

By Marian SAMPSON

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