I wanted highlight dementia issues following Dementia Awareness Week last week.
Dementia is a syndrome that is associated with an ongoing decline of the brain and its abilities, including: memory; thinking; language; understanding; and judgement. Dementia is a very common condition with in England alone 570,000 people currently living with dementia and that figure is likely to double over the next 30 years. Despite the number of people who develop dementia, very few are fully aware of exactly what dementia is. Usually occurring in people who are 65 or over, the older you get, the more likely you are to develop Dementia.
The Prime Minister recently announced the launch of a Challenge on Dementia programme of work which will take place between now and 2015 to improve dementia care and research across the country.
The programme will include a doubling of Government spending on dementia to £66 million which will be spent on research, health checks for people over 65 to identify any symptoms of dementia with referral if necessary, and diagnosis targets will be set for each part of the country by April 2013. The Government have also committed to funding ongoing awareness campaigns and working alongside Alzheimer's Society and Dementia Action Alliance to create Dementia Friendly Communities within the UK.
Three Champion Groups will also be formed and co-chaired by high profile figures with the aim of supporting the development of the programme by bringing together leaders from the health and social care fields as well as industry and broader society.
The Government has also announced an increase in the budgets of bodies that award research grants such as the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), the Medical Research Council (MRC), and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) for research into dementia at institutions across the UK.
Here in Crawley, I have had the fortune to visit a number of excellent care homes that cater for people with dementia. West Sussex County Council are also just about to open a new day service, Maidenbower Community Centre, based in Harvest Road, for dementia sufferers and their carers. This will provide activities, personal care and advice for dementia suffers and their families.
There is always more that can be done but this national investment into dementia research will hopefully allow for real progress in dementia research to develop a greater understanding of the underlying causes of dementia, develop better treatments in the future, and develop ways to provide better care for the people affected by dementia now.