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Ronan Smith, Chair of the Irish Dementia Working Group, advocates for people with dementia and for carers in equal measure

Monday 29 May 2017

This current period following my own diagnosis in 2014 is in fact my second experience of being an advocate for those whose lives are affected by Alzheimer’s disease.  In the 1980s I was a carer for my father who died from the condition in 1989. Awareness and understanding were very limited at this time, and as my father had a certain public profile, I involved myself in active advocacy to remedy this (media contributions -press, radio, TV). I also joined the then-entirely-volunteer committee to help the process of professionalising The Alzheimer Society of Ireland. I retired from the committee after 4 years having seen in the appointment of the first full-time salaried Director.

My second engagement with the Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland followed my own diagnosis of early on-set dementia in 2014, confirmed by genetic analysis as Familial Alzheimer’s Disease. I have just recently been appointed the Chair of the Irish Dementia Working Group, continuing to advocate actively for, and promote the interests of, people living with dementia and carers.

I believe that the voice of the person and the carer must be heard and given weight, and must then be entered into the deliberations regarding social policy and care provision.

I am committed and passionate in my belief that much can be done to support the role of people with dementia in policy development and promoting public understanding of the condition.  I have taken on responsible roles in a variety of organisations during my working life and would like now to commit my time and energy to this important work in the role of Chair of the Irish Dementia Working Group.