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Alzheimer Society’s Research Strategy into dementia guided by almost 300 consultations

The Alzheimer’s Society has launched a new strategy that sets out the priorities, objectives and actions that will guide its research activities over the next two years. This strategy is a result of almost 300 consultations with ASI Staff, volunteers, people with dementia, family carers/supporters, and the research and clinical communities.

Amongst those consulted was Kevin Quaid, who is living with Lewy Body Dementia, and who emphasised the importance of such a broad consultation. “We had to get the groundwork done right. That’s where the real-time needs to be spent. Once the foundation is sound, you can build something really great. That’s what we did,” he said.

The ASI’s Interim Research and Policy Manager, Dr Laura O’Philbin said: “We launch this Research Strategy not long after the two-year anniversary of the pandemic, in an ever-changing dementia landscape, not only for The Alzheimer Society of Ireland but on a global scale. As we launch our new two-year Research Strategy, we do so with a focus on developing and supporting dementia research across Ireland.

“Our collective ambition is to affect real change for people living with dementia, family carers and supporters. I am very grateful to the almost 300 individuals for their time and commitment to developing this vital work.”
Implementing  this strategy, over the next two years The ASI plans to: 
  1. Support the development of essential research infrastructure in Ireland to assert research readiness and prepare for current and future developments in the field.

  2. Develop and support quality dementia research that is in line with The ASI’s mission and values and is important to our communities of people living with dementia, family carers/supporters, staff and volunteers.

  3. Translate and disseminate evidence-based research to promote public awareness of dementia research.

This strategy comes less than one year after the launch of TeamUp For Dementia Research, an ASI service in collaboration with Dementia Research Network Ireland that connects people living with dementia and their supporters with opportunities to take part in dementia research. With less than 0.5% of people with dementia currently participating in research in Ireland, this service aims to make research more accessible to people with dementia and their families..

The ASI said that it was easy for people to register for the TeamUp for Dementia Research initiative and urged people and families who were, or had been, living with Dementia to sign up to add their experiences to the research – or to contact [email protected] for more information.

“Research is essential to help understand what causes dementia, develop effective treatments, improve care, create new interventions and even one day find a cure. Research at The Alzheimer Society of Ireland has developed significantly since the publication of our first ever Research Strategy four years ago. We are building on this work and in this strategy, we set out our ambitious vision for the next two years,” Dr O’Philbin said.
The Alzheimer Society of Ireland is the leading dementia specific service provider in Ireland. The Alzheimer Society of Ireland works across the country in the heart of local communities providing dementia specific services and supports and advocating for the rights and needs of all people living with dementia and their carers.
There are 64,000 people with dementia in Ireland and the number of people with the condition will more than double in the next 25 years to over 150,000 by 2045. according to the Alzheimer Europe Handbook. The ASI points out that anyone can get dementia – even people in their 30s/40s/50s.
“Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of conditions which cause changes and damage to the brain. Dementia is progressive. There is currently no cure. Dementia is not simply a health issue but a social issue that requires a community response,” they note.
“The majority of people with dementia (63%) live at home in the community. Over 180,000 people in Ireland are currently or have been carers for a family member or partner with dementia with many more providing support and care in other ways.”

In the collaborative process of developing the Research Strategy, Dementia Research Advisory Team member Kevin Quaid, who is living with Lewy Body Dementia, said “We had to get the groundwork done right. That’s where the real-time needs to be spent. Once the foundation is sound, you can build something really great. That’s what we did.”

The Dementia Research Advisory Team is made up of people living with dementia and family carers. Family carer, Brenda Buckley said: “we all came together with the same ideas. It was great to be able to talk things through. Research into all strands of dementia, be it on care, prevention or just making life easier when you are living with it, all of that needs to be shared with the public because it gives people hope and encouragement for the future.”

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