A third of people with dementia and two thirds of carers have felt lonely during the coronavirus lockdown, according to a new study.
The study from the Research from Improving the Experience of Dementia and Enhancing Active Life (IDEAL) programme at the University of Exeter is one of the first large scale studies to look at loneliness specifically in the carers of people living with dementia.
It found nearly half (44%) reported moderate loneliness and around a fifth (18%) severe loneliness.
Additionally, this is also one of a very few studies to explore the effect of loneliness on people living with dementia.
It found around a third (30%) reported moderate loneliness. People experiencing depression and living alone are more likely to report feeling lonely.
Currently, there is up to an estimated 120,000 people living alone with dementia in the UK.
The Alzheimer’s Society said the current pandemic poses a significant risk for people living with dementia – around 95% of people with dementia are over 65, many with underlying health conditions, and they largely rely on social care for support, which was already in crisis.
The charity said demand is also increasing for its services and support, as people with dementia are unable to get access to essential care and supplies, suffering huge anxiety and distress by losing their much-needed routines and fearful of their condition worsening because of a lack of social contact.
The charity is also hearing from family carers unable to visit in person, worrying that those they care for are experiencing abuse from others if they fail to remember social distancing rules, and struggling as they can no longer get any respite.
‘The loneliness so many people affected by dementia were experiencing before the nation was put in lockdown is frightening and as a charity, we’re extremely concerned at the further impact coronavirus will have on these figures, with people feeling so much more cut off,’ said chief executive, Kate Lee.
‘Having a dementia diagnosis, or caring for someone with the condition, should never mean people feel abandoned with nowhere to turn. Alzheimer’s Society is determined to do our best through services like our Dementia Connect support line to make sure no-one affected by dementia is left alone, but our funding has been badly hit.
‘We’re grateful for every penny we receive to help us support people with dementia, and those that care for them, through this difficult time,’ she added.
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