Dementia is a physical condition caused due to the structural and chemical changes in the brain, resulting into a collection of symptoms such as a decline in memory, reasoning and communication ability and a gradual loss of skills needed to carry out daily activities. This is a progressive condition, its symptoms becoming more severe over time.
On a personal level Dementia can be devastating not only for the people affected but for their families and personal caretakers. Apart from the physical restrictions inflicted due to the disease; severe guilt, inability to cope, depression and torment form a large part of the emotional spectrum that needs specialized dealing with. Caring for dementia also means mounting expenditure and loss of social and working hours.
Dementia can occur at any age, although is most common in older people. All over the world, there are approximately 24.3 million people reported to have Dementia, with 4.6 million new cases registered annually – i.e. one new case every seven seconds. Numbers of people affected annually will double every 20 years, to 8.1 million per year by 2040.
Dementia in the United Kingdom
According to the report published by the Alzheimer’s Society, UK, there were 700,000 people suffering from Dementia in the country in 2008 and that number is expected to rise to over a million by 2025. The total annual costs dedicated to Dementia care in the UK are over 17 Billion Sterling Pounds.
Of late there has been severe criticism about the attention given and the care models made available to tackle Dementia in the UK, and for multiple reasons.
Based on increasing amount of evidence in various reports, the current social and healthcare policies in the UK are considered a failure to support people with Dementia and their families. The tremendous growth in the number of people affected by Dementia is sure to overwhelm the already ill equipped system in near future. Lack of services available, insufficient research funding and inadequate provision for care skills and community support are noted as some of the reasons for the system’s inefficiency.
We are of the opinion that increasing awareness, not only regarding the scale, the state and the effects of the disease, but also about the emotional and social needs of the people affected, could cause tremendous positive change in the attitude towards Dementia in the UK and all over the world.