Australia’s first survey of people with dementia shows social isolation still a major issue

23 September 2014

New figures show that social isolation is still one of the major issues associated with a diagnosis of dementia, a new report released today by Dementia Australia has found.

The report, Living with dementia in the community: challenges and opportunities, contains the results of the first nationwide survey of people with dementia to identify priorities for tackling stigma and social isolation associated with dementia.

Speaking today at Parliament House, Graeme Samuel AC, National President of Alzheimer’s Australia, said that the best way of addressing the concerns of people with dementia was to consult them.

“The report’s findings are concerning and confirm that the social isolation that results from dementia is alive and well," Mr Samuel said.

“I know from the experience of my own family how real the feeling of social isolation is and how difficult it was for my mother to maintain her life-long friendships.

“Knowing that more than half of the participants surveyed felt that people avoided spending time with them because of their diagnosis is disheartening, and further justifies our campaign to build a dementia-friendly nation.

“Almost half of those surveyed stated that they have difficulty communicating with staff in stores. This poses a huge problem for the seventy per cent of people with dementia who live in the community, and the twenty per cent of them who live alone.”

The report indicates that dementia can have a profound impact on the social lives of people with dementia, with more than a third of the survey respondents stating that they wished they had more social contact with people in the community, and more than half stating that a fear of becoming lost is a major barrier to them going out and enjoying activities.

Alzheimer’s Australia has appointed Kate Swaffer, who has a diagnosis of dementia, to be a consultant on the dementia-friendly communities’ project.

“Small actions count towards making a big difference to the everyday lives of people with dementia,” Ms Swaffer said.

“The main priority for creating dementia-friendly communities, as identified by those surveyed, is to improve access to social activities and opportunities for engagement including employment and volunteering.

“Each dementia-friendly community will look different but may include simple changes like training staff to better communicate with people with dementia, providing volunteering and employment opportunities for people with dementia, as well as providing access to social activities such as sporting clubs and social groups.”

The report was launched at Dementia Australia’s Parliamentary Friends of Dementia meeting at Parliament House in Canberra today.

Further information, including resources and toolkits about dementia-friendly communities, can be found at www.dementiafriendly.org.au

Dementia Awareness Month 2014 is supported by financial assistance from the Australian Government.

Download a full copy of the report here.

 

Media enquiries:

Krystal Craig / 0407 019 430 / krystal.craig@dementia.org.au

 

Alzheimer’s Australia is the charity for people with dementia and their families and carers. As the peak body, it provides advocacy, support services, education and information. More than 320,000 people have dementia in Australia. This number is projected to reach more than half a million by 2030.

National Dementia Helpline: 1800 100 500

An interpreter service is available

(The National Dementia Helpline is an Australian Government Initiative)                            

Dementia is a National Health Priority Area                                         

fightdementia.org.au