Cashel’s Kathy Ryan with her sons Andrew and Matt.
The Alzheimer Society of Ireland (ASI) is hosting a free World Alzheimer’s Month Information Event at the Anner Hotel in Thurles tonight, Thursday 28th September, from 7-9pm.
The theme of the event will be living positively with dementia with tips on managing day to day life. Speakers include Emma O'Brien (occupational therapist), Amy Murphy (ASI dementia adviser), and the Citizens Information Centre for information about grants and entitlements.
The ASI has been raising awareness and challenging the stigma that often surrounds dementia this month.
Cashel’s Kathy Ryan was diagnosed with early onset dementia three years ago. In an interview with The Nationalist last May, she heartbreakingly described ‘living a nightmare’ and ‘fading away’ in front of sons Andrew and Matt.
“The boys have been great support, but I don’t want them babysitting me now. Yes I’m disappearing, and there will be a time when I can’t be left alone and will need them even more.
“I’m exhausted more than the average person my age and always need to have things in place,” she continued.
Kathy said the stigma surrounding dementia is ‘disgusting’.
“People look at me and think ‘you can talk so there isn’t anything wrong with you’, but it has taken a lot for me just to be here today.
“I got out of my car in Clonmel recently and a few things came at me like a text message and what I needed to do in town. I suddenly didn’t know where I was.
“I became flustered at the checkout in the supermarket and tried to explain myself but got the typical ‘Yeah right, tell us another one. We all have a bit of that’ response from the shopkeeper. That hurts a great deal. People with dementia shouldn’t have to watch everything they say,” she reiterated.
Kathy praised the support of ASI and called for more supports to be put in place to help families cope with dementia diagnosis.
“I would be severely depressed without ASI. Family carers are my heroes and do a thankless, 24/7 job,” Kathy praised.
World Alzheimer’s Month is the international campaign which aims to raise awareness of dementia and World Alzheimer's Day is held on 21st September each year.
During September, the ASI has looked at themes such as breaking down the stigma and negativity that often surrounds dementia; how people can do well and live well with dementia; and how the majority of people with dementia want to live in their own homes.
It is estimated that there are 55,000 people with dementia in Ireland and for every one person with dementia three others are directly affected. The number of people with dementia is expected to more than double over to 113,000 in 2036.
There are approximately 4,000 new diagnoses of dementia annually in Ireland and it has been forecast that the number of people living with the disease will increase to over 140,000 by 2041.
Kathy is vice-chair for the Irish Dementia Working Group, and is passionate about educating the nation on dementia. She is supporting ASI’s call on the Government to invest €40 million towards community supports for people with dementia, which has been outlined in the Pre-Budget Submission ‘Dementia Care Begins at Home – Building a Community of Care’.
“People have the right to information, especially when so many families are affected with dementia. It's estimated that over 55,000 people have dementia in Ireland.
"I have given talks at novenas, in universities and at Leinster House. The message I give out is that it’s ok to have dementia, but we need help, support and acceptance in society,” Kathy added.