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A new case of Dementia every three seconds worldwide

The month of September marks World Alzheimer’s Month and to raise awareness the Gibraltar Alzheimer’s and Dementia Society has submitted this article to the Chronicle.

50 million people live with dementia worldwide and this number is growing almost 10 million each year - the equivalent of a new case every three seconds.

Dementia is listed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as the world's fifth leading cause of death. People affected by the condition can face wide-ranging stigma and discrimination often due to a widespread misunderstanding of the condition. This is why dementia awareness, education and action are crucial.

World Alzheimer's Day – September 21

On Monday, September 21, the Worlds Alzheimer's Report 2020 - Design, Dignity, Dementia : dementia design and the built environment was launched. The first of its kind, the World Alzheimer's Report 2020 is the most comprehensive and in-depth look at dementia and the built environment.

It looks at progress to date, pioneers and innovators, design principles, application, regional and cultural contexts, the importance of including people with dementia in all aspects of design and poignantly the role of design during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.

It also looks to benchmark against progress made in the physical disabilities movement and demands the same progress made in design solutions for people living with dementia. The call to action is that all governments must now give specific attention to including dementia-related design in their national responses to dementia, included in national dementia plans.

Daphne Alcantara, (GADS Chairperson) said: "Dementia-related design is vital to enable people living with dementia to live at home and in our community for as long as possible and be treated with dignity in all care environments, hospitals, all public buildings and spaces.

As the number of people with dementia increases HM Government must give specific attention to including dementia-related design in their national dementia plans.

It is so important that dementia design planning should be at the beginning of any building project that is likely to be used by elderly people including those with living with dementia and should never be an afterthought. Design consideration can make a world of difference for people living with dementia and their families, helping them to live with dignity and respect.

Because of Covid-19 measures World Alzheimer's Day this year was different given the global pandemic and social distancing measures.

GADS was not able to hold it's annual Awareness Day in Main Street but the Tower of Homage and Mount Alvernia were lit in purple in support of people affected and living with dementia in Gibraltar. We want to highlight the importance to talk about dementia and break the silence surrounding dementia by urging everyone to join in the conversation by becoming a Dementia Friend.

Last week I was invited to The Convent and it was an absolute please to deliver a Dementia Friends talk to the Convent Team. I am delighted that Sir David Steel is the first Gibraltar Governor to become a Dementia Friend Gibraltar."

Dementia Friends Gibraltar
The Gibraltar Alzheimer's & Dementia Society launched Dementia Friends Gibraltar in 2017 to change people's perception of dementia locally and raise better understanding and greater awareness of the disease in our community.

The society wants to create a long term commitment and a community in which people living with dementia feel more understood and included in our community. Dementia Friends Gibraltar wants people of all ages and from all walks of life to understand a little more about dementia and to turn their understanding into action to help improve the lives of people living and affected by dementia.

Daphne Alcantara (GADS Chairperson) said: "There are nearly 500 people diagnosed with dementia in Gibraltar, a number which is growing every year. There is still little understanding about dementia - many people believe that dementia only affects the elderly and have no idea that it can impact younger people.

Dementia Friends programme is our biggest initiative to change people's perception of dementia ; we want to change the way people THINK, ACT and TALK about dementia. We need to get a far greater involvement from all sectors of our community, not just the government and policy makers to ensure that people living with dementia and their families feel properly integrated in our community. Stigma and lack of understanding can cause many people living with dementia to experience loneliness, isolation and social exclusion - Gibraltar is a small place and I am confident that if we all pull together, change can be achieved and we can improve the lives of those affected and living with dementia."

What is a Dementia Friend?
A Dementia Friend is someone who attends an Information Session and learns 5 key messages about dementia, a little bit about what it is like to live with dementia and then turn their understanding into a practical action that could help someone with dementia living.

Actions can range from being patient in a queue because you have understood that people with dementia may struggle to recognise coins, to helping someone find the right bus; every action counts! No action is too big or too small and when combined can lead to a step change on how society responds to dementia.

Why join Dementia Friends Gibraltar?
By actively challenging stereotypes and raising awareness through simple and accessible information Dementia Friends Gibraltar is working to transform our community to enable those living with the condition to feel more included and empowered and to help realise their rights.

By joining Dementia Friends you will be positively contributing to change attitudes about dementia in Gibraltar; together we can work to champion the rights of people living and affected by dementia.

Why being a Dementia Friend supporter in the workplace is so important ?
Dementia can impact the workplace in many ways. It could be the daily challenges of someone at work managing the early stages of dementia, or a caregiver juggling work and caring for a loved one. 3 out of 4 people will know someone with dementia which means that there are people you work with everyday who are touched in some way by dementia. Chances are your workplace also interacts daily with customers or service users who have a personal link to dementia.

Daphne Alcantara, said: "I am aware that building a Dementia Friendly community will take some time but Gibraltar is a small place and I am confident that if we all pull together, change can be achieved and we will help improve the lives of many families affected and living with dementia. Our goal is to make Gibraltar a Dementia Friendly community with businesses, organisations and the ordinary man in the street being made aware that there are people living with dementia locally that need to be understood and treated with dignity and the respect that they deserve. One of our priorities is to challenge the public, the medical, health and social care professionals and the policy makers to ensure that Gibraltar is a Dementia Friendly community, we need to see Dementia Awareness become part of the GHA and other relevant departments and agencies whereby they offer better education, understanding and training to all health and social care professionals so that they can better support people living with dementia, their families and carers."

Be part of the Dementia Friends Gibraltar
Anyone can become a Dementia Friend - you do not need any previous experience or knowledge of dementia, we want people of all ages and from all walks of life to understand a little bit about dementia. Together we can create a more dementia-friendly community, join us and help us make sure nobody in Gibraltar faces dementia alone !

For more information contact : Tel - 56001422 or email :
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