Report launched today highlights the need for communities to become dementia-friendly

Published 3 September 2013

Up to 180,000 people with dementia feel trapped in their own homes* according to a major new report launched by Alzheimer's Society today (Tuesday 3 September 2013).

'Building dementia-friendly communities: A priority for everyone' shows that one in three people (35 per cent) with dementia surveyed only leave their homes once a week and one in 10 get out just once a month.

Today Alzheimer's Society is saddened to reveal that people with dementia feel let down by their communities. Almost half (44 per cent) of people with dementia feel like a burden and so avoid getting involved with local life. The general public recognised the issue too with 59 per cent of UK adults saying the inclusion of people with dementia in their communities is bad in a YouGov survey**.

For the first time, an economic analysis commissioned by the charity shows that Dementia Friendly Communities could save £11,000 per person per year by helping people with dementia to remain independent, stay out of care for longer and have a better quality of life.

A dementia-friendly community is a city, town or village where people with dementia are understood, respected, supported, and confident they can contribute to community life.

At a conference in London, Alzheimer's Society is announcing the 10 areas communities can focus on to work towards becoming 'dementia-friendly'. They range from challenging stigma to including people with dementia in local life and highlight the importance of accessible transport and businesses that are respectful and responsive. The new symbol that communities can use to show they are committed to making changes will also be launched.

From Liverpool to Plymouth, many communities have already begun their journey towards becoming 'dementia-friendly'. Alzheimer's Society explored the experiences of towns and cities who were leading the way, to shape the new recognition process.

Lorraine Botbol, who cares for her mother who has dementia said:

'We took mum out recently to a local supermarket because she used to love shopping. We always have a problem when we get to the cash desk. Mum is sometimes vocal and it often irritates people in the queue or sometimes even the cashier. This time, my mum got upset, and the cashier said she'd rather be dead than have dementia.

'It really upset me. You can't just turn your back on people when they have dementia. My mum still enjoys activities and I wish people would wise up and understand you still need to value person when they have dementia. They're still there, they just express themselves differently.'

Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of Alzheimer's Society said:

'It's shocking and saddening that so many people with dementia feel trapped and cut off from everyday local life. It's encouraging to see some communities have started on their journey of change but it needs to be a priority for everyone to act now. It's vital we empower people with dementia and their carers

'By committing to change, communities can give people with dementia the confidence to be part of local life and stay independent for longer. It's vital that people sign up to the recognition process to kick-start this movement and help change attitudes and behaviour.'

Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health said:

'The dementia timebomb is one of the most pressing challenges this country faces in the years ahead. We have made real progress in starting to tackle this challenge, with over £50 million going towards dementia friendly health and care environments, and the first ever G8 Dementia Research Summit to be held in December this year. But this report makes clear that we need to go further and faster to change attitudes and build awareness in our communities. This government is backing communities to give people with dementia all the help and support they need to live well with this illness.'

*Survey findings from Alzheimer's Society (2013) have been applied to prevalence estimates from Alzheimer's Society Dementia UK (2007) report. This provides an estimate of 184,800 people

**YouGov survey Total UK sample size was 2,287.  Fieldwork was undertaken in January 2013. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+)

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