Majority of people living alone with dementia feel lonely, Alzheimer’s Society reports

10 Apr 2013 10:10 AM
Nearly two thirds (62 per cent) of more than 250,000 people with dementia who live on their own are lonely, according to Alzheimer’s Society’s new report Dementia 2013.

This compares to just 24 per cent of over 55 year olds.

Dementia 2013: The hidden voice of loneliness, is the second annual report exploring how well people with dementia are living. It found that over half of the general public (54 per cent) believe that people with dementia have a bad quality of life .

This was echoed in the feedback from people with dementia with 70 per cent saying they had stopped doing things they used to due because of lack of confidence. The majority of people with dementia also felt anxious or depressed (63 per cent) and a third of people (35 per cent) said they’d lost friends after a

Alzheimer’s Society is today calling on commissioners to ensure appropriate support services are available, whilst urging people and organisations to play their part in helping ensure their communities are dementia friendly.

Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Society, said:
'This report reveals the stark truth that too many people with dementia, especially the thousands who live alone, are truly isolated. We need to put a stop to this epidemic of loneliness, not only to improve quality of life but also to save thousands from reaching crisis point and being admitted to hospital unnecessarily or care homes early.

The Prime Minister’s Challenge has put dementia in the spotlight. However, the reality is that many people still feel disconnected from society. It’s time for all of us to play a part in helping people with dementia live well with the condition.'
Phillip who has Alzheimer’s disease is 67 and lives on his own, said:
'Since my diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, I don’t like going out on my own often. A recent incident with a rude bus driver left me shaken, confused and upset. He threatened me and drove off without letting me get off the bus. It’s set me back and I have been worried about going out ever since.

Although I have great support from my partner and carer who visits me each week and calls me every night, I don’t have many others to talk to. Without Mary, and the Alzheimer’s Society’s support group, I don’t know what I would do. My life would be over.'
Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador and choreographer Arlene Phillips said:
'I did everything I could to care for my dad when he got dementia. Unfortunately, the efforts of one person – or even a family – aren’t always enough. There are still substantial barriers to people with dementia having a good quality of life. It is not up to someone else to break these down. We all have a role to play in being considerate and supporting those with the condition.'

Other key statistics in Dementia 2013 include:
  • 38 per cent of all people with dementia said they felt lonely
  • People with dementia said they relied on relatives and friends for social contact and yet almost a quarter (21 per cent) speak to friends or family on the telephone less than once a month.  
  • Only 23 per cent of the general public thought it was possible for a person with dementia to live alone  
  • 16 per cent answered that they would not be comfortable talking to someone with dementia, 19 per cent were unsure.
The findings from Dementia 2013 are based on a survey of 510 people with dementia or carers on their behalf and a YouGov poll of 2,287 UK adults.

As part of the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia, Alzheimer’s Society is leading the Dementia Friendly Communities champions group. This has brought together a variety of organisations from the retail, professional services and public sector to look at how to make communities more inclusive of people with dementia.

Alzheimer’s Society is also aiming to recruit a million
Dementia Friends by 2015 to give more people an understanding of dementia and the small things that make a difference to people living in their community.