Almost half of UK adults would find it difficult to tell their own family if they thought they had dementia according to a poll commissioned by Alzheimer’s Society published today (Tuesday 21 May).
The YouGov survey – released to mark Dementia Awareness Week™ – found that 45 per cent of people agreed that they would find it difficult to tell their families if they thought they had dementia. Those aged 55 and over are more likely to find this difficult (50 per cent). The Alzheimer’s Society is today warning that this could mean up to half a million people are struggling in silence and not turning to their families for support.
56 per cent of people agreed they would find it difficult to broach the subject of dementia with someone they knew if they were worried they were developing the condition. Those aged between 18 and 24 were most likely to agree they’d find this difficult (64 per cent) followed closely by those aged 55 and over (60 per cent). Today Alzheimer’s Society is publishing It’s time to talk about dementia, a booklet that provides tips on starting a conversation about the condition.
The poll also found that from a list of health problems dementia came out as the condition people are least likely to tell their friends about if they were developing it. Over a third of people (34 per cent) selected the condition over other health problems such as serious heart or digestive problems. For those aged 55 and over this was even higher (43 per cent).
Mike Howorth, 83 from Cheshire, said:
“I was diagnosed with dementia six years ago. My father and grandmother had the condition so as soon as I noticed I was repeating myself and starting to forget things I went straight to my GP. I tell everyone I meet that I have dementia. It is absolutely vital that we talk about the condition. Unless people are prepared to talk about it many of those who are worried about their memories will never pluck up the courage to see their GP.”
“I still do all the things I love such as playing golf, working in the garden, swimming and playing bridge. I also do some part time work helping others who have been diagnosed with dementia. I want to stress the importance of talking about the condition. It really will make a huge difference.”
Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive, Alzheimer’s Society, Said:
“It is really saddening that dementia is still a disease that many of us don’t feel comfortable talking about, especially with our own families. One in three people over 65 will develop dementia in the UK and hundreds of thousands more are affected by the condition in some way, whether it is a family member or a friend.”
“This Dementia Awareness Week™ we want people to start talking about dementia. It is not just about preparing us all for a condition that is on the rise and currently incurable. It is about banishing the stigma surrounding dementia that is causing so many people to struggle in silence. So I’d encourage everyone join the conversation on Twitter at #TalkDementia.”
Yesterday (Monday 20 May) Ruth Jones joined celebrities including Terry Pratchett, Carey Mulligan and Gerry Anderson as the latest to speak out about dementia.
Five tips for talking to someone you’re worried might have dementia:
- Consider whether you’re the right person to have the conversation
- Pick your moment
- Choose your words carefully
- Try to be positive
- Ask for advice from Alzheimer’s Society
Other key findings from the poll include:
- Only 35 per cent of people said the first thing they would do if they were worried they had a serious health problem is book an appointment with their GP.
- 24 per cent of respondents in the online poll said the first thing they would do if they thought they had a serious health condition is look up their symptoms online. 18 – 24 year olds would be more likely to look up their symptoms online than any other age range (29 per cent).
- From a list of awkward conversations, talking to our parents about sex is the most awkward, almost a quarter of the population selected this (23 per cent). Breaking up with someone came a close second (20 per cent).
Blog article by Alzheimer’s Society