15th May to 22nd May 2016 marks “Dementia Awareness Week”.  On a positive note, research into preventing or at least slowing the progression of the disease is now seeing major breakthroughs.  The Daily Express recently highlighted that current research suggests proteins can be seen in a brain scan 15 years before someone develops the disease, therefore it is envisaged that drugs can be developed that either stop or delay the build up of these proteins and thus reduce the number of people getting dementia, or reducing its severity.

Current estimates suggest 1 million Britons will have the disease by 2025.  Doctor Simon Ridley, of Alzheimer’s Research, said, “Picking up the signs early is a key goal because any treatments will be more effective if taken before too much damage has taken place”.

A further concern is that people with dementia are being discharged from hospital without adequate support being put in place before they go home.  People with dementia may recover physically in hospital and may be clinically able to go home, for example after a fall, but this should not happen without social care needs being assessed.

Independent Living owner, Mark Booker, commented, “We are now living longer but we in the care profession are seeing far more people with dementia so medical advancements are great news.  I think society demands that we take research into heart disease or cancer seriously because it can affect people of all ages but we have, perhaps for too long, just accepted conditions such as dementia or Parkinson’s as an inevitable consequence of old age.  It is therefore very positive that these breakthroughs are taking place”.

Impact Of Dementia

Mark continues regarding the impact of dementia saying, “People who have not had a loved one with dementia perhaps assume it is someone simply being a bit forgetful.  However, a person’s personality can completely change, their behaviour can become very challenging, and their actions can put themselves and others at risk.

In our experience, dementia is most cruel for families because their loved ones personality can completely change, they may not recognise important people in their lives and these changes may take place over several years.  We are also concerned that hospitals may address physical conditions but someone with dementia living at home will require social care and this should be put in place before they are discharged.”