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News : Calls to Dementia Helpline Increase by 63%
Dublin, Ireland, March 2, 2 016 -- Calls to Ireland’s dementia helpline service have increased by 63% since 2010, and last year was the busiest ever.
In 2015, 4,750 calls were made to the helpline service run by the Alzheimer Society of Ireland, up from 2,907 in 2010.
The service continues to experience an increase in calls as awareness of the condition grows. Almost six out of 10 calls made last year were in relation to people with a confirmed case of dementia.
More than one in 10 (13%) were from people worried about memory issues and their general cognitive health.
Calls from people in the early stages of dementia continue to increase — one in 10 made last year were from people with dementia under the age of 70.
Of the 48,000 people living with dementia in Ireland it is estimated that 4,000 are under the age of 65.
January is usually a busy time for the experienced helpline advisers, with families raising lots of questions and concerns after spending time together over Christmas. This year there was a 50% increase in calls to the helpline between December and January.
People called the service after noticing small but significant changes in how a loved one was behaving from day to day.
Ms Taylor said they received calls from people experiencing significant hardship and real distress and often had to spend a lot of time dealing with them.
Often, families felt they were betraying a loved one by talking about what they had seen or heard.
Ms Taylor said the confidential helpline was vital because it provided a safe place for someone to have that first conversation about dementia concerns.
The phone call often led to callers reaching out to their local health and social care professionals to access supports and services.
"Our helpline workers are trained to provide emotional support as well as provide practical information and signposting to services," said Ms Taylor.
The society has managed to pick up all the calls made to the service. More trained volunteers have been recruited to deal with the surge in calls over the past five years. They are supported by two full-time staff.
Ms Taylor said that the number of people diagnosed with dementia was expected to increase by 20% over the next five years.
"That’s 11 people a day this year, so it is critical that we can keep this service going," she said.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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