A new Dementia Strategy for England has been announced. It will aim at promoting awareness of the disease.
With the number of dementia cases set to double to 1.4 million over the next 30 years, the public needs to have a much better understanding of the condition, it is felt. At the moment though, dementia is a subject of stigma and misunderstanding.
AdvertisementMany people believe that dementia is an inevitable part of ageing, not a disease, a review by the Department of Health found. Others find the condition embarrassing. Those beliefs lead both suffers and carers to delay reporting the symptoms to doctors, missing out on potential care as result.
Medical professionals too have given a low priority to the disease, the review says, calling for better training for nurses and doctors.
Finally, people do not realise that some dementia may be preventable by leading a healthy lifestyle.
As a result, the strategy says there should be a new national publicity campaign "to reduce anxiety and promote understanding" of dementia.
The government has unveiled plans for "memory clinics" to spot and treat dementia, as part of the new strategy.
And specialised advisers will help people with dementia and their families navigate the care and support systems, the Health secretary has announced.
Besides the campaign could specifically target certain groups and organisations, such as companies and schools.
"Such a campaign could also target the personnel/human resources and occupational health departments of employers so that they are aware of the early signs of dementia," the strategy says.
Employers should also be made aware that staff could be caring for dementia sufferers, putting additional strain on them.
Including dementia in schools' Personal, Social and Health Education and Citizenship
Education courses "could also form an important strand of an effective public information campaign" the strategy says.
Health Secretary Alan Johnson said: "In an ageing society, caring for people with dementia is one of the most important challenges we face. I know that for many people, diagnosis can be difficult, care can be patchy and without adequate support, families can be under huge stress. All that must change."
Alzheimer's Society says the strategy will make an incredible difference to the lives of people with dementia and their carers if it is implemented. It offers a huge opportunity to put people with dementia in control of their lives by making sure they have access to an early diagnosis, good quality information and a range of support services throughout their journey with dementia.
It should also translate into better public and professional understanding of dementia and better quality of care in hospitals, care homes and people's own homes, the Society hopes.
But Rebecca Wood, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Research Trust, said the plan was "excellent news" but would not in itself solve Britain's dementia crisis.
"This £150 million investment in dementia care over two years is substantial and welcome. We are concerned that the strategy may not receive such support over the full five years of its implementation. Given the £17 billion annual cost of dementia in the UK, the government cannot afford to get this wrong.
"It is worrying that so little has been done to end the under-funding of dementia research," she said.