Typically chronic and progressive, dementia is a syndrome that affects an individual's cognitive function, memory, thinking, behaviour and disrupts their ability to perform everyday tasks. Among older people, dementia is a major contributor of disability and dependency. Dementia can have a significant impact, not only on the individual with dementia but also on the caregivers, families, friends, and society as a whole. In this article, we will first take a look at some of the statistics around dementia right here in Ireland as well as the world. Next, review the signs and symptoms of dementia and lastly, consider how we can help provide care to those with dementia.
Dementia in Ireland: Fact and Figures
According to the HSE, in Ireland over 60,000 people are living with dementia. This number is expected to double over the next 20 years, progressing to 150,000 by 2045. A majority of those diagnosed are over 65 years of age with 10% under 65. Of the people living in Ireland with dementia, two-thirds are women. With the prevalence of dementia in Ireland increasing, 1 in 2 people know someone with dementia, yet only 1 in 4 reported having a good understanding of dementia. It is important as a society to educate ourselves to break down stigmas associated with dementia to build better, more accessible resources for diagnosis and care.
Dementia Global Prevalence
The prevalence of dementia is increasing. The World Health Organization (WHO) states, worldwide there are about 50 million individuals with dementia, and that number is only expected to increase. It is predicted, that by 2030 the total number of people with dementia will be 82 million and by 2050, 152 million. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s, contributing to around 60-70% of cases.
The Progressive Stages of Dementia
WHO categorises the progression of dementia into 3 stages, early, middle and late. Each individual will experience signs and symptoms differently. The onset is gradual making the first signs of dementia challenging to recognise. Typically, individuals will experience forgetfulness, get lost in familiar places, or lose track of time. As an individual's symptoms progress their day to day activities may become more challenging. In the middle stage, those with dementia may become forgetful of names of family, friends and recent events. They could experience difficulties communicating, asking repeated questions, require more assistance with personal care, wander and exhibit changes in behaviour. In the late stage of dementia, the signs and symptoms are more apparent. Individuals have increased difficulties recognizing family and friends, become unaware of time and place, have difficulty walking and may express more aggression as behaviour changes.
Caring for Someone With Dementia
As the number of people with dementia increases worldwide and within Ireland, understanding how to take care of someone with dementia (care for a parent with dementia) is an important step, but as a society, we need to meet the needs of this population. Developing more communication and education around the topic can lead to more dedicated resources to meet individual needs. Having a devoted community designed for those with dementia can help offer continued independence while supporting the individual’s care needs. At Clonmannon we are working to do just that. We are developing a home that welcomes people with dementia and provides a safe community supporting independent living and catered personal care by using dementia support robots, Mylo, as well as a dedicated nursing team. Please visit the websites (http://www.clonmannoncarecentre.ie/ and https://www.heymylo.ie/ ) for more information.