Dementia is an illness which through its actions society most wants to forget. The forgotten army are the hundreds of thousands of carers, usually spouses or devoted daughters desperately holding on to a loved-one who is slowly disappearing before their eyes. They receive little help or understanding and indeed may well disguise what is happening for fear of embarrassing their husband, wife, mother or father. Until the burden becomes too great or their own health suffers and they are no longer able to cope.
The scale of this unfolding tragedy is seldom spoken about because the reality of the numbers is overwhelming and society’s response is so inadequate. There is no cure and few therapies are available. Nonetheless, this is all the more reason to encourage an open discussion and to seek more research into both a cure and more positive treatment.
A study by Oxford University at least provides some of the facts:-
35 million people worldwide have been diagonosed with dementia.
822,000 people in Britain are believed to have dementia.
60% of British sufferers have Alzheimer’s Disease.
Only 31% are being treated by the NHS.
37% are in long term care.
14% of women aged 80-84 have dementia
36% of women aged 95-99 have dementia
Two thirds of sufferers are not receiving any treatment for the disease from the Health Service.
THESE FIGURES ARE ASTOUNDING !
Let’s look at the estimated costs:-
£27,646 is the annual cost of each dementia patient.
£1.2 billion is spent on dementia by the NHS.
£9 billion is the Social Services’ cost.
£12.4 billion is the value of unpaid carers (relatives)
£23 billion is the total annual cost of dementia care.
– this is twice the cost of cancer care
– and three times the cost of heart disease
Now the real travesty and why I say this is a forgotten problem. As a society we spend just £61 on research for each person with dementia. A total of £50 million a year on research, which sounds a lot until you realise that £590 million is spent annually on cancer research.
We can no longer hide this issue under the carpet. Our ageing population is only going to significantly increase the problem.
Time for a radical re-think, don’t you think ?