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20,000 live with dementia... and most haven't got enough support

By Victoria O'Hara

Many of the near 20,000 people living with dementia in Northern Ireland do not feel that they are being adequately supported, new research has revealed.

The latest figures show that there are 19,765 people diagnosed and living with dementia, although it is believed there are more who have yet been diagnosed.

The highest levels of degenerative disease in Northern Ireland are in the east, according to Dementia UK. In Belfast 3,175 people are affected, in Lisburn 1,239 and North Down has 1,115.

A survey by the Alzheimer's Society published today suggested that 42% of people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland with dementia do not feel they "live well". That includes not being able to make choices in their life, feeling isolated and not having access to support.

Nearly two-thirds (61%) said they had felt anxious or depressed recently and seven out of 10 people were living with another medical condition or disability as well as dementia.

Of those looked after by a carer, 43% said their carer received no help. And the charity predicts that there will be 850,000 people living with the condition in the UK by 2015, costing £26bn a year. Despite the costs of people needing residential care – two-thirds of which is shouldered by people with dementia, their carers and families – the charity warned that tens of thousands of people with dementia were still living without adequate support to do everyday tasks like getting dressed, eating and going to the toilet.

The charity is now urging the Department of Health to ensure that people with dementia receive the care and support they need.

Shirley Graham (51) from Bangor supports her mum, Marlene, to care for her father, Jimmy McDowell (84), who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease about four years ago.

"Gone was the man who would do anything for you to a man who is heavily reliant on his carers, be it his wife Marlene or the immediate family and grandchildren. Dad relies on mum for everything, although we are there to support her," she said.

But Shirley (51) said it was vital to have a team of support "because caring for someone with dementia day to day can be incredibly stressful".

Alzheimer's Society NI Director Bernadine McCrory said that despite good progress, the research "highlights the huge financial and human impact dementia is having".

Area by area, the number of sufferers

The number of dementia sufferers according to local authorities across Northern Ireland in 2013 is 19,765

Antrim 513

Ards 979

Armagh 612

Ballymena 806

Ballymoney 344

Banbridge 505

Belfast 3,175

Carrickfergus 464

Castlereagh 908

Coleraine 735

Cookstown 361

Craigavon 926

Derry 888

Down 798

Dungannon 530

Fermanagh 715

Larne 408

Limavady 308

Lisburn 1,239

Magherafelt 426

Moyle 204

Newry and Mourne 904

Newtownabbey 983

North Down 1,115

Omagh 514

Strabane 405

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