We need to talk about dementia
One in three of us will develop dementia in our lifetime. And more than half of us have a loved one who has been diagnosed with dementia.* Yet despite the fact that we are all either living with dementia or know someone who is, research shows the majority of us are still extremely reluctant to think and talk about the condition.
Nearly half (48%) of us have never had a conversation about dementia with our loved ones. And one in three of us don’t want to talk about it at all.**
As a result of this widespread reticence to talk about dementia, plenty of misconceptions remain. For example, a recent YouGov poll revealed the majority of people (85%) believe they are most likely to meet someone with dementia in a care home, when in fact two-thirds of people with dementia live in the community.
For some of us, discussing dementia may feel awkward – but the reality is that a conversation is a starting point to banishing these misconceptions and getting people thinking and talking differently about dementia.
Dementia NI's Start A Conversation campaign, which will run throughout February 2024, encourages everyone to start an open conversation about dementia, to challenge negative stereotypes around the condition.
We know that people with dementia can continue to live fulfilling lives, filled with joy and aspirations for the future, due in part to support from organisations including Dementia NI, and the availability of medication and other treatments. We see it first-hand every day in our members and it gives us great hope for a society in which people with dementia are respected and understood, not ignored.
We want to break the silence and start having open and positive conversations about dementia. Only through conversation can we ensure that anyone who is diagnosed has access to the right support and information and is empowered to live their life to the full.
How do I start a conversation about dementia?
To help you start your own conversations about dementia, we've created two short campaign films in which Dementia NI members talk openly about their own experiences of living with dementia. The message in these films is that although they may have challenges, people with dementia are still themselves and can continue to live well following a diagnosis, with the right support.
Across the next four weeks, we’ll be sharing glimpses of our new films on our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube channels.
Join us on our journey and help to get the conversation started by sharing the clips on social media with the hashtag #StartAConversationToday.
We have a wealth of free information on our website to help people feel more confident when talking about dementia:
- The importance of early diagnosis
- What it means to live well with dementia
- How Dementia NI can support people with a diagnosis of dementia
The benefits of talking about dementia
Dementia NI Member and Trustee Davie McElhinney, 60, was diagnosed with early onset frontotemporal dementia seven years ago. Reflecting on how talking openly about his diagnosis helped him come to terms with it, he says:
"Dementia NI provided a relaxed space for me to talk about my own experiences following my diagnosis. I had begun to think I was the only person with early onset dementia. Just to go along to my local Empowerment Group and talk to others in the same situation was a big help. The support I got from the other members was fantastic and I am pleased to have been able to support one or two people myself.
enjoy helping other people and working to put a clear message out that life
isn’t over after your diagnosis. If we can help people to talk about dementia,
we can create support networks and help people to find information that can
be a lifeline. This campaign from Dementia NI is a great way to start an open
conversation and reduce the stigma. "
Commenting on the campaign, Dementia NI CEO Clare Watson, says:
“The best way to improve our understanding of dementia is to start open conversations and enable people to access high-quality information and support - and that’s what this campaign from Dementia NI aims to do. We'd like to thank Davie, Tom, Julie and Martin for sharing their stories in our campaign films and to all the members and volunteers we worked with to develop the films. We hope it’s an effective way to spark positive discussion and empower people to cut through the misconceptions and find out the facts about dementia."
To help us #StartAConversationToday and challenge the stigma of dementia, all you need to do is share one our short films on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn throughout February 2024.
Thank you for your support!
The films were developed in collaboration with film agency Journeyfor and funded by the LFT Charitable Trust.
*Statistic from Alzheimer's Research UK
**Figures from OnePoll.com