This week marks Dementia Awareness Week and a YouGov survey by the Alzheimer’s Society and Saga Homecare shows that 63% of people are worried about developing dementia at some point in life. Not surprisingly, those over 55 years are the most concerned. Yet it is people in the 18-24 range who most want to learn about the condition.
Dementia is used as an umbrella term for symptoms, most often caused by Alzheimer’s, and in some cases by vascular dementia, Pick’s Disease, or other illnesses. In March, dementia was declared a national crisis by the Prime Minister. With an ageing population and more demands than ever on our health care system, it is important to plan for dementia-related illnesses. Diet, exercise, and new medications are all being studied as possible preventative measures or to help slow or even stop the process once it has begun.
With most people preferring to stay at home as they age, it is also important that family and friends are given the support they need to help those with dementia symptoms live life to the fullest. People who care for dementia patients at home save the UK government £8 billion a year. Rates of dementia diagnoses are increasing in Wales – hopefully this means that more people are aware of the symptoms of dementia and what to do when they appear. Most people know someone who has suffered from dementia symptoms. It can be heartbreaking to see a loved one lose their precious memories, ability to communicate, and even fail to recognise those around them.
It is important to speak to your doctor to understand what is happening, and to reach out for support. If you are concerned about dementia, your GP can help answer your questions, or refer to you a specialist if needed.