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Discovering the Full Social Impact of Dementia

Feb 20, 2024 | Dementia, Discover Our Blog

Lady with arm around elderly woman in garden

Dementia is a syndrome connected with deterioration in memory, thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday activities. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, accounting for approximately 80% of cases. The probability of developing all types of dementia increases with age, from 1% at age 60 to 40% at age 85.

People with dementia are no different than people without dementia, where they want to remain at home as long as possible, with a sense of familiarity, and engagement in typical everyday activities. Dementia can have a significant impact on individuals, families, and communities.

The Impact:

For family members and caregivers, dementia can be challenging to manage, both emotionally and practically. Providing care for a loved one with dementia can be time-consuming, stressful, and costly, and may lead to caregiver burnout and other negative outcomes. At the community level, dementia can have significant economic impacts. The cost of caring for individuals with dementia can be high, and as the population ages, the prevalence of the condition is expected to increase, placing an even more significant burden on healthcare systems and economies worldwide.

Emotional Effects:

People with dementia often experience changes in their emotional responses. They may have less control over their feelings and how to express them. For example, someone may overreact to things, have rapid mood changes or feel irritable. They may also appear unusually distant or uninterested in things. It is essential to look beyond the words or behaviours you see to the feelings the person might be trying to express. Unmet needs may also cause strong emotions. Carers should work out what these needs are and meet them where possible.

Confidence and self-esteem Effects:

Dementia may cause people to feel insecure and lose confidence in themselves and their abilities. They may feel they are no longer in control and may not trust their own judgement. They may also experience the effects of stigma and social ‘demotion’ – not being treated the same way by people – as a result of their diagnosis. However, some people form new relationships as a result of their diagnosis through activities such as attending a class or support group. High self-esteem allows some people to cope better with chronic health conditions.