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Two-thirds of New Zealanders are touched by dementia

New research reveals two-thirds of New Zealanders are touched by dementia

Alzheimers NZ calls for Kiwis to ‘get their heads around dementia’

New research released by Alzheimers NZ reveals that two out of every three Kiwis know or have known someone with dementia. For 64 percent of those people it is a family member and a third have been involved in their direct care and support.

Alzheimers NZ Executive Director Catherine Hall said the new study titled Awareness and Understanding of Dementia in NZ 2014 has been released to launch the About Dementia campaign, which encourages New Zealanders to ‘get their heads around dementia’.

“This new research tells us is that dementia touches the vast majority of New Zealanders, and for many of us it directly impacts our family and our daily lives,” Ms Hall says.

“It also reveals an underlying fear of dementia in New Zealand, with more than a third of respondents stating that dementia is one of the things they fear most about getting older. 15 percent said they fear dementia more than any other condition, second only to cancer.”

How we compare internationally
Ms Hall says Alzheimers NZ was also surprised to find that New Zealanders are generally less fearful, and they are better informed and more accepting of dementia than our international counterparts.

“New Zealanders’ attitudes towards dementia are more positive when compared with international research. Most New Zealanders indicated they would be willing and able to help people with dementia in public, and would be happy to talk about it if a close family member was diagnosed with dementia,” she says.

“When compared to a recent 12 country study[1], New Zealanders are generally less fearful of dementia (with 15% fearing dementia more than any other condition) than the global average (23%). More than one-quarter of Australians fear dementia the most.”

The About Dementia campaign
Ms Hall says that despite its widespread impact, the new research also reveals that nearly half of New Zealanders don’t know much about dementia, and that there are misconceptions about the condition.

The About Dementia campaign encourages New Zealanders to find out more about the condition so they are prepared if it affects them or someone they know, and so that people affected by dementia can get the help and support they need.

“The reality is that dementia is one of New Zealand’s fastest growing and most significant healthcare challenges. New Zealanders all need to know more about the condition so they can recognise the early warning signs and get support if it affects them or someone they know,” Ms Hall says.

“Increased understanding and acceptance of dementia amongst the general public is also critical in supporting people with dementia to remain actively engaged in their communities.”

The About Dementia campaign is funded by the Ministry of Health and Pub Charity. It features the lived experiences of people affected by dementia, including Alzheimers NZ’s Champion for Dementia Colin Mathura-Jeffree.

For more information about dementia and the About Dementia campaign, visit www.aboutdementia.org.nz or call 0800 004 001.

Anyone worried that they or someone they know is showing signs of dementia should contact their GP for a full assessment. For support and education people can contact their local Alzheimers organisation on 0800 004 001.

Highlights of Awareness and Understanding of Dementia in NZ 2014

• Two out of every three New Zealanders are touched by dementia
o For 64 percent of those that know/have known someone with dementia, it’s a family member.
o A third of those that know/have known someone with dementia have been involved in their direct care and support.
o 85% of people 60 years and over know/have known someone with dementia.
• More than a third (34%) of New Zealanders state that dementia is one of the things they fear most about getting older.
• 15 percent of New Zealanders fear getting dementia more than any other condition, second only to cancer.

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