Alzheimer’s Society has joined forces with the RAF Association to develop ‘life-changing’ initiatives that will support Armed Forces personnel caring for loved ones with dementia.
News of the partnership comes as a major survey reveals the unique pressures on carers serving in the military due to often being deployed outside of their home area, sometimes at short notice and overseas.
The survey, carried out by the RAF Association on 4,000 Armed Forces personnel, found that 15% had an unpaid carer responsibility for someone with a health problem, with the most frequently cited condition being dementia.
Together with Alzheimer’s Society, the military charity is developing a raft of support initiatives based on interviews conducted earlier this year with personnel with carer responsibilities.
A range of prototype initiatives will be tested by RAF personnel in the coming weeks. The aim is to provide a lifeline for those struggling with a care role or a relative’s diagnosis, connecting those with similar experiences and providing a safe space to share their stories and access resources.
According to Alzheimer’s Society, more than 112,000 people working across all employment sectors have had to give up their job in the past year, with many retiring early because of their caring commitments.
The RAF Association director of Welfare and Policy, Rory O’Connor, said the Association was now working with Alzheimer’s Society to develop solutions to help prevent a workplace crisis in the Armed Forces.
He said: “Apart from very limited data published through the MoD in 2017, no information was previously available to us that we could use to tailor key welfare services to personnel needs.
“We knew it was imperative to understand the characteristics of the people our charity serves, so we undertook our own survey of over 4,000 people – the largest charity survey of the RAF family ever conducted – during 2018.
“Of course, people who join the military understand that there will be challenges and sacrifices as part of their role, but life can change dramatically and beyond all recognition when an ageing parent is diagnosed with dementia.
“Suddenly, personnel working a long way from home can be faced with an impossible situation. Trying to co-ordinate or provide care from a distance, when you can’t be there in person, can be agonisingly frustrating.”
Caption: Research participant, Flight Lieutenant Rosie Brooks, whose mother was diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer’s Disease early this year.