Earlier this month the G8 summit focused on the growing epidemic that is dementia. There are currently 800,000 people in the UK living with this condition and with the aging population it is estimated that it will affect 1 in 3 of us in the future. Yet there is little money being invested in cures and a strong stigma is still attached to the condition.
The summit promised to find a cure by 2025. This sounds impressive but the lack of any effective treatment on the market at the moment makes this little more than a dream. The drastic cuts to the NHS have hit the elderly the worst and the already little services for those living with dementia have dwindled.
Those living with dementia, in any of it’s over 100 varying forms, is not just difficult for the person coping but is also difficult for their families. Husbands, wives, children, siblings; all these people suddenly become carers most of whom receive little support outside of the family. The NHS struggles under its current workload and with no effective treatment those suffering from dementia are left to be cared for by families or placed into private homes.
The impact of dementia is difficult to understand if you do not have personal experience of this. Unfortunately for myself I have two members of my family suffering from this condition; both of which have completely different symptoms and experiences. To see my gran, in one case, and my papa in the other struggle to look after those that they love can be a difficult thing to witness.
My gran gets frustrated at her husband whose mood swings are legendary. His likes and dislikes change daily and one day, after 40 years, he decided he did not smoke anymore. This uncertainty and, sometimes, aggressive behaviour causes my gran to struggle to continue on and has led to her being treated for depression.
My papa (on my fathers side), recently cleared of prostate cancer, has taken charge of the household expenses, cooking and cleaning for my gran. These were things my own father had to help him with and teach him as they had always been my grans area of expertise but now her memory has reverted to that of a younger version of herself. She thinks her husband is her dad and has no clue who I am. My papa has also been told he is suffering from depression due to the stress this causes him.
In both occasions they are not left to care for these people of their own and the family does help. However, to constantly live with no hope of regaining the person you love yet to still have them there is heart-breaking and destroying. The lack of support is not just detrimental to those with dementia but also for those left to care for them.
This issue needs more support. Its needs more research. Most of all, we need more public services in place to support both the person and their carer.
For more information please visit http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/