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Thousands contact Alzheimers helpline

Wednesday, 29th January, 2020 4:07pm

Almost 6,000 people contacted the Alzheimer National Helpline in 2019. That's according to the Alzheimer Society of Ireland (ASI) who revealed that 5,478 people contacted its helpline last year with 78 per cent of helpline users dealing with a confirmed diagnosis of dementia seeking information about services and supports in their community.

Over half of people who contacted the helpline where a dementia diagnosis was confirmed said they were not currently accessing any service. The main services discussed were key community-based supports including home care, dementia advisers, day care, support groups, respite, social clubs and alzheimer cafés.

In addition to this, one fifth of relatives who contacted the helpline explicitly mentioned carer stress while 16 per cent of families and people with dementia verbalised a need to talk to someone about how they are coping.

The ASI’s General Election 2020 campaign Deliver on Dementia – Time to End the Crisis aims to ensure that dementia is included in the new programme for government so people with dementia and their families can get the support that they need.

Pat McLoughlin, the ASI's CEO said: “The high number of people contacting the helpline clearly shows there is a real lack of supports and services across the country with no county having access to even a minimum standard of care. It’s very worrying to see that 78 per cent of callers to the helpline where a diagnosis is confirmed are from people looking for information about supports and services with 52 per cent of people callers where a diagnosis was confirmed saying they have no service at all. We all know that there is a crisis in dementia care and carers are really feeling the brunt with 20 per cent of relatives who contacted the helpline explicitly mentioning carer stress. This is very worrying.”

Samantha Taylor, the ASI's National Information and Advice Services Manager said: “The helpline is a key part of the information service offered by the ASI. Set up in 2000, this free and confidential service provides access to information and emotional support for people with dementia, their carers, relatives and friends, for professionals and for people who are concerned about their own or a family member’s cognitive health.

“Dementia is a life-changing diagnosis with 38 per cent of people reaching out to the helpline within the first year of diagnosis and a further 17 per cent are within two years of diagnosis.

“This demonstrates that the helpline is a vital support to people coming to terms with this illness.”

The helpline is open six days a week; Monday to Friday - 10am-5pm and Saturday - 10am-4pm. Call 1800-341341, email helpline@alzheimer.ie or visit alzheimer.ie.

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