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Perspectives on the Person with Dementia and Family Caregiving in Ireland

Suzanne Cahill

This book is all about dementia in Ireland and what has and has not been happening in a country where dementia has been a taboo topic for so long. In particular it examines the dementia landscape since late 2014, following the launch of Ireland’s first National Dementia Strategy. A lot has happened in Ireland since that time but a lot more needs to happen for people to live well with dementia and have their human rights upheld. There are an estimated 55,000 Irish people living with dementia and these figures are set to triple by 2050. Although topics explored in the book,such as obtaining a diagnosis, accessing home care services and moving from home into a nursing home relate to Ireland, they are discussed against the backdrop of policy, practice and research developments in dementia in other parts of the world. In this way the book provides the reader with a wealth of information including research evidence, best practice guidelines and international expertise. The book has been dedicated to Mnánah Éireann, in recognition of the hard physical and emotional work, caregivers,mostly women do behind closed doors. Throughout the book, an appeal is made for more state support to be given to these formal and informal caregivers.

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CHAPTER 1 An introduction to dementia



The magnitude of dementia cannot be under-estimated. All of us know someone who has dementia or who has been directly or indirectly affected by it, but public knowledge and understanding varies and there is confusion about what dementia is and what it is not. There is also confusion about Alzheimer’s disease: the difference between Alzheimer’s disease and dementia and more recently the difference between Alzheimer’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease dementia (AD dementia).

The purpose of this chapter is twofold. First it introduces the reader to dementia – an umbrella term used to refer to a group of symptoms affecting memory, thinking and social abilities and to Alzheimer’s disease – a specific dementia sub-type. In doing so, it details what these conditions are and what they are not. There are several hundred different types of dementia and the first part of the chapter briefly reviews four of the most frequently occurring sub-types: their symptoms, prevalence rates, risk factors (modifiable and non-modifiable) and lifestyle habits that may help avoid or delay the onset of dementia symptoms. The second part of the chapter progresses to a brief overview of dementia in Ireland to set the context for the chapters to follow. Recent updated estimates are provided on Irish incidence and prevalence rates of dementia and an overview is presented on the political context underpinning the development of Irish health and social care policy in the field of dementia care.

What is dementia?

Dementia is a general...

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