The theme of this year’s Dementia Awareness Week (18 - 24 May 2014) is “don’t bottle it up” which aims to encourage people to open up about dementia and talk to the Alzheimer’s Society. Throughout the week there will be a national advertising campaign, press coverage, awareness-raising and fundraising events across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Alzheimer’s Society explains that, while some people have a great support network, there are many others who live alone. The campaign seeks to reach out to sufferers so that they will access the help available to assist those living alone and help them remain independent for as long as possible.
Dementia is a serious and progressive disease that leads to memory loss and communication problems that can make life confusing. The disease now replaces cancer as the disease that people fear most, according to the G8 dementia summit. The hope is that, by being more open about dementia and accessing the help available, the standards of life of dementia sufferers nationwide can be improved. The Alzheimer’s Society believes that the sooner sufferers and their families know what they are dealing with, the sooner they can move forwards with their lives and feel in control again.
Commenting on Dementia Awareness Week, Lucie Prothero, associate in the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches, said: “We wholeheartedly support the Dementia Awareness Week campaign to raise awareness of dementia and encourage a dialogue about it so that sufferers and their families know where to access the help they need. Nearly a million people in the UK over 65 suffer with dementia and one in three will die with it. Bearing in mind the large number of us who will be affected by dementia, it must be placed high on the political health agenda.
“The global number of dementia sufferers is expected to treble to 135 million by 2050. In London in December 2013, the G8 dementia summit addressed this “dementia time-bomb” and recognised that dementia is one of the world’s most pressing medical and social problems which is estimated to become the biggest burden on health-care systems. The G8 summit focused on the need for research to try to find curative or preventative treatments for the condition but, while research is always valuable, we urgently need to look at how to support people who are living with dementia now. One of the most pressing needs must be to ensure good quality care for dementia sufferers, as well support for the families who are providing the care.
“Over recent years we have seen an increase in enquiries from families of elderly dementia patients who are unhappy about the way their loved ones have been cared for. We often see problems arising in the hospital or care home setting relating to poor management of dementia patients who may become agitated, frightened and confused within that environment. If these patients are not properly managed, it can result in poor outcomes such as serious falls or failings in basic care such as the avoidance of pressure sores. Taking care of today’s dementia sufferers needs to remain a health and social care priority."