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The ad tells the story of Mrs Jane Mullan from Blackrock, Co Dublin and her daughter-in-law, Chloe O’Connor, who share their experiences of caring for Jane’s husband, Sean, since he was diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease.
It is estimated that there are 55,000 people in Ireland currently living with dementia, with approximately 4,000 people developing dementia each year. The number of people living with dementia in Ireland is expected to more than double by 2040.
Prof Brian Lawlor, Consultant Psychiatrist and Chair of the ‘Dementia: Understand Together’ campaign, is encouraging people to reach out more to carers.
“There are an estimated 180,000 people in Ireland who are currently, or who have been, carers for a family member or partner with dementia. Carers play an immensely valuable role; however, it can be challenging. Many of those who have received a diagnosis, their families and loved ones tell us of feeling isolated within their own communities, of being written out of daily life, because family, friends and neighbours don’t know what to do or say, and so they stay away.
“If you know someone who is a carer, don’t be shy or embarrassed or think that they are too busy to see you. Drop by for a chat, offer to do the shopping, or sit with their loved one for an hour so that they can have a break. Don’t underestimate the difference that continued friendship and emotional support can make. It goes a long way towards improving the health and wellbeing of the carer and lessens the sense of loneliness they can experience. We can all make a difference by offering support to our friend, neighbour or family member who is caring for someone with dementia.”
Mrs Mullan commented: “After Sean was first diagnosed, I stopped for a couple of months and went in to a kind of depression; it was all just too much for me. But the family were terrific and so were his friends. I would always ask for help and it’s always been forthcoming. I would always tell people to ask for that help, not to let yourself sink under that weight.”
She said she couldn’t do without the help of her son Conor and his wife Chloe, who moved into the family home to help with Sean’s care: “I think I was quite lonely and quite lost before they moved in. It is great to have Conor and Chloe here and have somebody to see things in a different way. I don’t think I was dealing with it very well before they came to live with us.”
Dr Stephanie O’Keeffe, HSE National Director of Health and Wellbeing, said: “With this campaign, we are hoping to create a greater sense of solidarity in our communities, so that we include people with dementia and those caring for them, more in our lives. Part of that is seeing the day to day reality from a carer’s perspective, and knowing how our help can make a big difference – whether it’s calling in or phoning a neighbour for a chat, or as a business, undertaking dementia awareness training for customers – each one of us can make a difference in our personal and community lives, while our health service takes on the ongoing challenge of meeting the health and social needs of people living with dementia.”
Mr Michael Fitzgerald, HSE Head of Operations and Service Improvement, Services for Older People, added: “An important part of this campaign is educating people about the scale of dementia. It is one of the biggest challenges facing our society; the number of people with dementia will double by 2040. We have thousands of people in our health service working to provide diagnostic, community, home and residential care to people with dementia and their families; but it’s also true that meeting the full needs of today’s population is a challenge. Our teams are working to carefully manage the services and resources we have, and together with the campaign stakeholders, advocate for increased investment in the clinical and community support needs of people with dementia. We acknowledge the role of carers across the country and the role they play each day in supporting their loved ones, sometimes in difficult circumstances. We know we have a long way to go in providing a comprehensive range of services and supports around the country, but it is our priority to do so.”
The TV advertisement will air from today until October 2018. It is the third in a series of real-life stories that have been released as part of a campaign that aims to increase understanding and support for people living with dementia and their carers.
For more information, please visit www.understandtogether.ie
Watch the Mullan family’s story: https://youtu.be/oIHZY0BrKpk