Department of Health and Social Care
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One in three admit to avoiding people with dementia

One in three admit to avoiding people with dementia

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 01 March 2010

Over half say they don’t know how to help

One in three (32 per cent) people are uncomfortable around people with dementia according to new research. Care Services Minister Phil Hope said today as he launched a new awareness campaign.

The new "Living Well" campaign employs real people with dementia who declare 'I have dementia - I also have a life' to educate the public about the condition and demonstrate the simple things everyone can do to help people live well with dementia.

The new MORI poll found that:

· a third (32 per cent) of those surveyed said 'I would find it difficult to spend much time with someone who has dementia';
· fifty-three per cent said they do not know enough about dementia to help someone who has it; and
· 81 per cent agreed that some people with dementia can still take part in normal activities.

People with dementia today challenged public perceptions by ballroom dancing at the campaign launch event at Pasha, the London nightclub.

Phil Hope said:

"Dementia doesn’t discriminate and neither should we. Our research shows that too often people fear dementia and this causes them to avoid people with the condition, making them feel isolated and stigmatised.

"We want to start to break down this stigma and show the simple things you can do to help people live well with dementia.

"Some people face great difficulties living with dementia - the 'Living Well' campaign is not meant to downplay their experiences. We want to show that, with the right support, people can live well with the condition and continue to do the things they enjoy for a number of years following diagnosis."

The campaign will appear on TV, radio, online and in print across England. It asks people to take a moment to find out more about dementia and provides five simple ways to help someone living with the condition.

1. Respect and dignity – focus on what the person can do, not what they can’t.
2. Be a good listener and be friendly – Support and accept the person, be patient. 3. Do one little thing – cook a meal or run an errand, it all helps.
4. Make time for everyone – partners, children and grandchildren will be affected. Could you do something to help one of them?
5. Find out more - Understanding dementia makes living with it easier.

Ruth Sutherland, Acting Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Society said

"People with dementia tell us that, once diagnosed, others begin to act differently or avoid them altogether. This has a huge impact on their lives, but we know that with the right support people can continue to enjoy a good quality of life.

"Alzheimer's Society has been delighted to support this first step to tackling fear and misunderstanding that surrounds dementia. One in three people over 65 will develop dementia so it is vital we all understand how to better support those living with the condition."

Also attending the launch was the recently appointed National Clinical Director for Dementia , Prof Alistair Burns who said

"Despite the fact that most people will be touched by dementia at some point in their lives, understanding of the condition, and how it is managed, is poor. We want to start to increase understanding, break down stigma and show some simple things you can do to help people live well.

"What’s good for your heart is good for your head and for your mind. Dancing is particularly good for people with dementia as it can help increase coordination and keep people active. It is a skill that people may remember when their memory starts to deteriorate."

Dementia. The more we understand, the more we can help.

Notes to Editors

For more information, case studies or spokespeople, please contact the Department of Health newsdesk on 0207 210 5221.

1. A survey of 1,689 adults aged 15+ was carried out by social researchers at Ipsos MORI on behalf of DH and Alzheimer’s Society. The survey was conducted 12-18 February 2010. The interviews were conducted in England using the Capibus, a face to face CAPI (computer-assisted personal interviewing) omnibus survey. One hundred and fifty nine sampling points were used. The data are weighted to reflect the population profile of England.

2. The research confirms the findings of the Alzheimer’s Society report ‘Public awareness of dementia’ in which people with the condition said that revealing their diagnosis resulted in the loss of friends, and difficult relationships with family members.

3. Public awareness of dementia: What every commissioner needs to know was published by the Alzheimer’s Society in 2009.

4. Research, published by the Alzheimer’s Society, shows that over 700,000 people currently have a form of dementia and in less than 20 years, one million people will be living with the condition.

5. In 2009 the Department of Health published ‘Living Well with Dementia’: a five year National Dementia Strategy (NDS) aimed at transforming the lives of people affected by dementia.

6. The new awareness campaign features a series of TV, radio and online ads, supported by information packs and a website.

7. To find out more about dementia the public can visit www.NHS.UK/dementia or call 0300 123 1916

8. For regular updates on dementia, visit the dementia information portal at http://www.dementia.dh.gov.uk

Contacts:

Department of Health
Phone: 020 7210 5221
NDS.DH@coi.gsi.gov.uk

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