Friday, 27 April 2012

Dementia for Dummies

Last night on BBC2 Louis Theroux presented a documentary on dementia.

Entitled " The capital of the forgetful " it can be found on iplayer here.

I'd encourage everybody to watch it.

Dementia devastates lives and with a growing and ageing population the problem is getting out of control.

Currently over 800,000 people have dementia in the UK and that is predicted to grow to over 1,000,000 by 2021.

The financial cost of dementia to the UK will be over £23,000,000,000 in 2012.

Check out the excellent Alzheimers Society website and their shocking stats page.

What the documentary does very well is give you a real reality check as to the destruction of lives.

The best medical research now believes that dementia is not a sudden onset disease but builds over 20-30 years. And during this onset your mental abilities decline and the speed of cognitive decline accelerates.

So if we ignore the costs and the fact that there is no coherent plan to meet our need now, or into the future, what is our problem ?

The state pension and public sectors pensions ! With the retirement age ever extending, more and more of us will be working into our late 60's and early 70's, how will dementia impact on the states growing requirement for income tax and national insurance. I have yet to hear from any sage of wisdom what the state expects me to be doing to earn an income at 67, 68 ? And are the projections being used to calculate the states requirements based on my earning potential at those ages recognising any physical or mental decline ?

Confession time, the writer is the registered carer for my father who has had dementia for the last 6 years and who is currently having residential care provided by the NHS and so I have seen this awful affliction from a very personal view.

I want to criticise one core aspect of last nights programme. Only for a very short segment of the programme did we witness people with the later stages of dementia ( the 4th floor if you watch the programme ). Choosing my words carefully, the majority of participants were early stage sufferers who were not showing large amounts of distress. I've spent the last 2 years with my father surrounded by later stage dementia suffers. Drifting off into lala land might be for some but equally being trapped in their own worst nightmares for years is a reality for many.

Visiting a dementia ward is harrowing and should be avoided at all costs. The thing that hits you is the howling and screams, the continual screams 24 hours a day. In a long gone moment of lucidity my father turned to me and asked to be killed ! As I was left trying to mentally process what had just happened, the lucidity evaporated. It was replaced with  more screams.

1 comment:

  1. The best thing to really do is read up and prepare. Enough stimulation can easily prevent dementia and alzheimer's. No matter how tempting or good it is, things like urgent care north phoenix should only be a last resort.