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A new survey conducted by Alzheimer Scotland has found that people living with dementia and their carers across Scotland are experiencing significant loss of friendships and social connections and increasing isolation.

In a poll of over 500 participants to mark Scotland’s Dementia Awareness Week, the ‘Friendship and Dementia’ survey found that two out of three people living with dementia have lost friendships following their diagnosis.

The organisation said the more must be done to improve public understanding of and attitudes towards dementia, in order to help friendships adapt following a diagnosis and during the illness.

The survey also found that 60% of people living with dementia feel reluctant to attend social situations such as birthdays or weddings with family and friends.

Of those surveyed, a worrying 91% of participants felt that the public did not know enough about dementia and what it is like to live with the illness.

Although public awareness of dementia has improved greatly in recent years, public understanding of the illness and its wider symptoms remain limited.

As well as memory problems, other less-well known but common symptoms of dementia include difficulties in concentrating, problems with language, issues with vision, disorientation, increased tiredness and struggling with familiar tasks such as using a bank card.

Jim Pearson of Alzheimer Scotland, said:  “There has been much progress in recent years, but the results of our survey demonstrate that there is a great deal still to do to tackle the stigma associated with dementia.

“Sadly, losing friends is a familiar story that we hear from the people we support.

“With approximately 90,000 living with dementia in Scotland and the number expected to rise, more and more of us will at some point have friends and family who are living with dementia.”

He added: “This Dementia Awareness Week we are calling on Scotland to take action now, get informed and stand by their friends and family to make sure nobody faces dementia alone.”

Anne McWhinnie, Dementia Friends project manager, said the “heartbreaking findings” also highlighted key issues society must urgently address.

She said: “A dementia diagnosis can turn someone’s world upside down, so it’s vital to stay in touch and feel comfortable in talking about the changes that it brings.

“Support your friend and others living with dementia all over Scotland by being part of our Dementia Friends initiative which aims to increase understanding of the condition, and of the small things everyone can do to help people living with dementia in their community.

“The most important way you can help is just to be a good friend and to support the friends and family living with dementia.”

Local planned events for dementia awareness week are posted on the Alzheimer Scotland Lewis and Harris facebook page.


Survey reveals people living with dementia lose friendships

1 June 2017