A new survey has highlighted the social isolation and stigma felt by people with dementia and their informal carers.
The survey by Alzheimer’s Australia has been released to coincide with Dementia Awareness Month, which runs throughout September.
Maree McCabe CEO of Alzheimer’s Australia said many carers and people with dementia struggled with feeling disconnected from others and the broader community.
“The way we respond as a community can leave people with dementia and their carers feeling socially embarrassed and uncomfortable,” she said.
One survey respondent with dementia said: “Having dementia I have lost friends and family members who don’t want to know about the dementia journey… People often talk about me to others and not to me when I am sitting right next to the person.”
The Dementia and the Impact of Stigma Report surveyed 1,457 people nationally including people with dementia (44), carers (751) and the general public (662).
Ms McCabe said it was encouraging that 50 per cent of the general public respondents said they were frustrated by their lack of understanding about dementia and wanted further education.
“I would like to learn more about the things I can do in someone’s company with dementia to make them and their carers more comfortable,” one survey participant said.
Ms McCabe said a diagnosis of dementia does not define a person and community understanding of the condition needed to improve.
This year’s Dementia Awareness Month theme is You Are Not Alone and Alzheimer’s Australia is calling on individuals to to reach out to people with dementia in their community.
Resources are also available to download including Tips For Friends, communication tips and language and communication helpsheet for people with younger onset dementia. The National Dementia Helpline is 1800 100 500.