The number of people with Dementia in Ireland is expected to more than double over the next 20 years, from 55,000 today to 113,000 in 2036. For anyone who is concerned about dementia, it is helpful to be aware of the services and support networks available if you find yourself caring for someone living with Dementia or facing your own diagnosis. Whether you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, there is always support available.
There are many support groups which can help directly with Dementia care. Support groups help people to live well with Dementia, maintaining their dignity and quality of life. 180,000 people in Ireland are currently or have been carers for a family member or partner with Dementia. Joining a new support group is a gentle and slow process of meeting other families or individuals, sharing experiences, growing together, and supporting each other with compassion. Family support groups achieve this through listening, supporting, and encouraging hope in times of distress. If you are looking for support, advice is available from primary care providers such as your local health office and Public Health Nurse.
The Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland provides a number of support groups for families living with Dementia. These groups directly help the individuals with Dementia maintain happiness and dignity. The Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland are the national leader in advocating for and providing dementia-specific support and services. Some of these support groups include:
Day Care Centres
Face to face Family Carer Training
Reminiscence walking trails- to promote feelings of familiarity and comfort
A comprehensive list of support groups offered by the Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland can be found here. The Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland also provides a free helpline which is open six days a week Monday to Friday 10am–5pm and Saturday 10am–4pm on +1800 341 341 for practical information and emotional support. Do not be afraid to reach out for help.
Educational support groups also help Irish families everyday deal with Dementia. Education and training can contribute to easing the burden at home as well as establishing, maintaining, and improving standards of care. A Family Carer Training programme is available for carers, provided by The Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland. This programme aims to develop family carers’ knowledge of Alzheimer’s and other Dementias, and to enable them to respond more confidently to their family members’ needs. It also allows opportunities for carers to meet other carers and share their experiences. The programme is delivered in a warm, safe environment under the guidance of experienced staff members. For more information on the Family Carer Training programme, click here.
To protect vulnerable adults, staff members and volunteers during COVID - 19, many supports and services including Day Care Centres, Support Groups, Social Clubs, Alzheimer Cafes, and face-to-face training groups have been postponed until further notice. However, many services and community groups are looking at new ways of supporting people with dementia and their families at this time in their local communities. An online support group has been developed which is actively helping carers cope with this difficult time. People who wish to avail of this new service should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Family Carers Ireland is a non-profit, national charity supporting the 355,000 family carers across the country who care for loved ones. It is a national voluntary organisation which provides a home respite service, family carer training, support groups and information service which may be helpful to you. They aim to help with family resilience by providing a range of services and supports for family carers through our network of support centres nationwide and advocate on behalf of family carers at local, regional, and national level. They operate a National Freephone Careline at +1800 24 07 24.
Online support groups for Dementia are also available across different online platforms, ranging from forums to chatrooms. Dementia Support groups such as a Private Facebook group, can offer another avenue for gaining insight and experience into living with Dementia as a caregiver or patient. They can provide comfort and solace, as well as other means of support. When it comes to dealing with Dementia as a caregiver or loved one, it is important to utilize all professional support groups available, when needed.