Dementia diagnosis is 'frightening'

Thousands more people are expected to be diagnosed with “frustrating and frightening” dementia in Derbyshire in the next decade.

Derbyshire County Council has outlined its plans, in partnership with other health, social care and voluntary authorities, to help spread awareness of the condition and ensure it is diagnosed earlier and that support is improved.

A report on the strategy, which is to stretch until 2025, says that by 2021 there will be 15,300 people in Derbyshire with late onset dementia (those aged over 65).

This is expected to grow to 17,000 by 2026 and 20,000 by 2031.

It says that people diagnosed when they are over 65, and particularly over 85, are at an increased risk of having additional health conditions, frailty and other complex needs.

Meanwhile, the report says that by 2021 there will be 805 people with young onset dementia (those aged under 65).

This is expected to grow to 889 by 2026 and 872 by 2031.

The World Health Organisation defines dementia as a syndrome “in which there is deterioration in memory, thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday activities”.

It says that dementia has a “physical, psychological, social and economic impact, not only on people with dementia, but also on their carers, families and society at large”.

The county council report is to be discussed on Thursday, November 21.

It says that the number of people aged 65 and over in Derbyshire is set to increase by nearly 60 per cent in the next 20 years.

The report says: “Nationally and locally, the increase in both life expectancy and the prevalence of dementia creates the need for more effective services and support options.”

Three main aims of the strategy are:

  1. Ensure all staff that work in the health and social care sector have the information, knowledge and skills required to meet the needs of people living with dementia wherever they receive care.

  2. Deliver services that diagnose early so that people can access support and plan for living with dementia.

  3. Improve access to, and quality of, treatment and support following diagnosis, for people living with dementia and their carers.

The county council and Derby and Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group already pay £1.8 million a year to fund the Derbyshire Dementia Support Service and Dementia Reablement Service until 2024 – £7 million over the next five years.

Figures in the strategy report estimate that the “cost of dementia” in Derbyshire and Derby soars into the hundreds of millions of pounds.

This is as a result of unpaid care; state social care; health care; and individual social care.

Anonymised statements from Derbyshire residents with dementia, carers and social workers were also included in the report.

One person with dementia said: “An early diagnosis is important for a person living with dementia as at the beginning it is quite frightening and frustrating and if we understand and are informed about the condition it would give the person the support they need.”

Another Derbyshire resident with dementia said: “I want my family to know how they can do things to reduce the risk of developing dementia as I would not want them to get it.”

A Derbyshire carer said: “It is still a minefield for people often not knowing where to go for support.

“Care needs to be coordinated so everyone is aware of what is available and support needs to be ongoing.”

A health and social care worker said: “We live in a diverse society therefore services should not be one size fits all.”

The strategy stresses the importance of an early diagnosis of dementia to enable “informed early decision-making and facilitate advance care planning”.

However, it also puts a focus on the need for post-diagnosis support.

It says: “Carers don’t feel supported practically, and they aren’t prioritised for support or as experts.”

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