Dementia patients lack proper care
According to two leading charities, dementia sufferers are not getting the care they need because the condition is not recognised as a terminal illness. A report by Marie Curie Cancer Care and the Alzheimer’s Society has said that dementia sufferers face barriers to receiving the high-quality care they require. The report draws on research from across the UK and particularly from University College London, as well as findings from health and social care services.
Dementia is an umbrella term used for about 100 diseases in which brain cells die on a huge scale. More than 800,000 people in the UK, including one in 14 of those aged over 65, are thought to have the incurable disease. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, which affects brain function and causes problems with memory, mental agility, language skills, and the ability to carry out everyday tasks.
The report addresses the terminal nature of the illness, calling it “the forgotten aspect of what has been referred to as a ‘silent epidemic”‘. It points out that those with dementia will die (whether directly as a result of dementia or of another co-existing condition) and that improvements must be made for the care of people in the later stages of dementia. While responses are now in place in relation to terminal illness and death from cancer, similar responses now need be shaped to respond to the needs of people with other diseases such as dementia.
The government has said the issues raised were being addressed. Meanwhile, the charities say they will develop an action plan. They aim to bring several groups dealing with dementia patients together – including NHS organisations, social care bodies, charities and researchers – in a bid to tackle the issues the report has raised.
Julie Crossley, a medical injury lawyer at Ashtons Legal, comments: “We are receiving more and more enquiries relating to care of the elderly, highlighting the fact that care in this sector is becoming a concern. Many of the referrals relate to those with dementia type illnesses. This is an illness for which there is no treatment and it is vitally important that the care provided is suitable otherwise concerned and distressed families often turn to the law to seek assistance.”
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