Remember ME - You Me and Dementia

Monday, May 26, 2008

Dementia will strike down million people

Almost a million people in England will have dementia within a generation and the bill for dealing with the disease will rise to £35bn a year, a major new study reveals.

The document, drawn up by experts in ageing and health for the King's Fund think-tank, highlights the huge practical and financial challenges posed to the NHS, social services and the government by the brain and body-wasting conditions collectively known as dementia.

With care of someone with the illness costing £25,472 per year on average, the organisation's mental health expenditure review predicts that by 2026 the total care bill for those with the disease will increase 135 per cent from £14.8bn to £34.8bn. That may well prove to be an underestimate, though, say the authors who predict the number of sufferers will soar by more than 60 per cent from 582,827 to 937,636.

Health ministers are finalising the government's first national dementia strategy, which is intended to counter criticism that the disease is given far too low a priority, and that support services are inadequate. An initial draft is due to go out to public consultation within weeks. The strategy will focus on raising awareness, improving early diagnosis and intervention, and providing better services for those affected and their carers.

Almost two-thirds of dementia sufferers have Alzheimer's disease. Andrew Ketteringham, head of external affairs at the Alzheimer's Society, said: 'The projected growth in people with dementia is huge. Our own research has shown that by 2025 more than a million people in the UK will have the disease, so it will touch the lives of every one of us because every family in the country will have someone with dementia.

'People think that dementia is about losing your memory, but it actually takes your whole life away. It removes every ability you have to function. It progressively destroys your whole life. People end up not being able to walk, talk or eat.'

The society predicted last year that 1,735,087 people in the UK would have dementia by 2051. Numbers are increasing sharply, mainly because of the UK's ageing population. But mounting evidence also suggests that lifestyle-related conditions, such as obesity and physical inactivity, increase someone's chances of developing dementia.

The King's Fund report is the work of Martin Knapp, a professor of social policy at the London School of Economics, and Dr Paul McCrone, a health economist at King's College London. Sir Derek Wanless, the former chairman of Natwest Bank who carried out two in-depth reviews of the NHS's future for Gordon Brown, chaired its steering group.

They recommend that health professionals, especially family doctors, should urgently improve their systems for early detection of the disease so that treatment can start. Dementia campaigners say that only one in three people with the condition are actually diagnosed, which causes confusion among them and their relatives about what is wrong with them and problems ensuring they get appropriate treatment.

The report also urges drugs companies to keep up their efforts to develop cost-effective treatments that will help people remain independent as long as possible. The National Institute of Clinical Excellence has been criticised for advising that Alzheimer's drugs are given only to those in the 'moderate' phase of the disease and not to those in the early stages, even though they may help slow its progress in some patients.

Giving disease-modifying drugs to more people aged 65-84 could be cost-effective because that would save around £2.4bn in care costs, the report states. A Department of Health spokesman said that early diagnosis of dementia could be very difficult.

The King's Fund report also says that England will not experience a significant rise in functional mental health conditions such as depression, schizophrenia and eating disorders by 2026. That contradicts widespread concern that the pressures of modern living, such as job stress and family breakdown, will lead to more of such problems.

Health Minister Ivan Lewis will this week launch a £500,000, government-funded Alzheimer's Society campaign, called Worried About Your Memory?, urging anyone who is concerned that they are having memory problems to visit their GP to undergo a check-up and get treatment before any dementia they have worsens.


WHEN WILL INDIA and other countries WAKE UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

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