Time to tackle dementia discrimination
MORE than two-thirds of people living with dementia felt at risk of experiencing some form of discrimination and 30 per cent say their wellbeing declined due to COVID-19, according to new research by Dementia Australia.
The findings were released in the Discrimination and dementia – enough is enough report released on Monday as part of Dementia Action Week which runs until September 26.
Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe AM said the research showed people living with dementia and carers experience discrimination that can lead to social isolation, loneliness and poor mental health.
These experiences had been intensified due to COVID-19, the survey of 900 people found.
“We need to change this experience for people impacted by dementia. People living with dementia, their families and carers tell us enough is enough,” Ms McCabe said.
“Now more than ever we need to shift our thinking around dementia to stop adding discrimination to the symptoms that people with dementia experience.
“The good news is a little support does make a big difference and there are small actions we can all take to make a change for the better.”
Key findings from the research include:
• Three-quarters of respondents who identified themselves as at risk of dementia indicated that they expect they will be treated differently if they are diagnosed
• 91 per cent of people who have a loved one with dementia indicated other people don’t keep in touch with that person as they used to
• 87 per cent of people living with dementia surveyed felt people patronise them and treat them as if they are not smart
• 65 per cent of people surveyed who live with dementia and 58 per cent of those who feel at risk of dementia believe discrimination towards people with dementia is common or very common
• More than 90 per cent of professionals, volunteers and people not impacted by dementia agree that people living with dementia are likely to be treated differently once they are diagnosed
• 43 per cent of people living with dementia and 38 per cent of family carers had postponed health or medical visits due to COVID-19 restrictions, and
• 34 per cent of family carers and 30 per cent of people living with dementia indicated their physical wellbeing had declined due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“Research demonstrates that this discriminatory behaviour impacts all aspects of a person’s life; from the way they engage socially to the types of services they access and receive and the way their human rights are interpreted,” Ms McCabe said.
“This disempowerment leads to individuals being less likely to identify or fight for their fundamental human rights and sadly, it demonstrates that we have a long way to go to truly tackle discrimination against people impacted by dementia.”
She said this year’s Dementia Action Week theme, ‘A little support makes a big difference’, was a challenge to all Australians to increase their understanding about dementia and make a difference to the lives of people around them who are impacted.
To discover more and read the full report visit the Dementia Australia website.