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Admiral Nurse Joe Costello

Dementia support this Men’s Health Week

We speak to the newly appointed and first ever Consultant Admiral Nurse for Sport and Dementia, Joe.

My name is Joe Costello, I am the newly appointed and first ever Consultant Admiral Nurse for Sport and Dementia. I have been an Admiral Nurse for six years with experiences spanning community and clinic settings

What barriers do you think men have in seeking a dementia diagnosis?

I think some men struggle to open up to their family and friends and deny that they are experiencing any memory problems or cognitive impairment. They may worry about how a diagnosis will impact their life and how others may view them.

Dementia can also cause problems in communication which can lead to withdrawal from family, friends, interests and social networks.

Some men may not be used to visiting the GP and so it might be an unfamiliar – and sometimes daunting – experience.

What are the main barriers men have in accessing support as a carer?

Over 70% of callers to our Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline are female, but with rising cases of dementia and the condition still being so stigmatised, it’s important that we open up conversations so that male carers feel able to seek support.

Asking for help may feel difficult for some men.

Some men may have a more practical and pragmatic approach and see caring as their duty – but if they don’t recognise themselves as a carer, it can have implications on accessing support.

Accepting their role as a carer is the trigger to being offered services like respite, which gives them more time to do activities which are meaningful to them.

It may also enable them to access financial benefits, such as the Carer’s Allowance.

What would your advice be to male carers around accessing support?

Accessing support early is key, just so people have the opportunity to talk through how changing roles and relationships can affect them or find out ways of adjusting or coping with dementia in their lives.

It’s also about establishing the different connections that people have to each other. One person may be the primary carer, but there are often other family members and friends who can get involved in support at home and other activities. As dementia specialists, we can uncover what each family member can provide to support the person, and equally each other.

Dementia is complex, so it’s important to receive expert advice and support on the condition and how to manage it. It’s ok to ask for help and it doesn’t mean that it is a sign of weakness or that you’re a failure.