Ten per cent of those diagnosed with dementia live in the west of Ireland, leading a County Galway based senator to call for a major overhaul and improvement in detection, treatment, and support of dementia sufferers.
Living with Dementia in Rural Ireland, a conference in NUI Galway, heard that of the 48,000 people in Ireland diagnosed with dementia, 10 per cent live in the West. The national figure is expected to increase to 150,000 by 2040.
A lack of health sector training to detect dementia early; poor transport and communications infrastructure; lack of funding and social supports for sufferers and their families; and over dependence on anti-psychotic drugs, particularly in residential settings, were issues of concern raised at the conference.
Speaking after the conference, Galway Sinn Féin senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh, called for greater support and training to be provided for GPs to enable them to detect dementia at an earlier stage. "Detection can be quite complex and some of the current cognitive tests are not appropriate or conclusive in their findings," he said.
He said he was also concerned by the fact that people with early onset of dementia, who are under 65, are currently ineligible for assistance. He further noted that, "organisations supporting dementia sufferers, carers, and their families, are also finding it hard to keep up with the demand for services. This needs to be kept high on the Government’s agenda as well."
The An Cheathrú Rua based senator also called for increases for home care supports and renovation schemes. He also called for more supports to allow sufferers to stay in their own homes; and that the Government must implement the Assisted Decision Making (Capacity ) Act 2015.