17 Aug 2016
Author: Stephen Breen
The quality of care you will receive for dementia depends where in the country you live, according to official data – with dramatic variations in quality up and down the country.
Figures released on Tuesday showed that in some areas, patients can go more than a year without their condition being reviewed, while in others, the majority of people suffering from dementia were denied their request to die at home.
According to the NHS Dementia Atlas, just 49% of people in Somerset had an annual review – compared to 86% of patients with the condition in North East Lincolnshire. These wild variations are deeply disturbing given the progressive nature of most types of dementia – including Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies. The structure and chemistry of a patient’s brain is increasingly damaged over time, leading to a decline in their ability to communicate, understand, reason and remember. As the condition develops further, the patient will require an increasing degree of support with their daily living – but with such huge variations in annual reviews, some patients will not be getting the support they need soon enough.
The life expectancy for different types of dementia varies. For vascular dementia, it is typically five years, with most patients ultimately dying from a stroke or heart attack. For other types of dementia, life expectancy can be significantly greater – up to twelve years – although everyone experiences dementia in a different way. The majority of sufferers say they would prefer to die peacefully at home, but in some areas of the Country, these wishes are not being respected.
The stats reveal that the rate of emergency hospital admissions for older people with dementia were 6,046 per 100,000 in Bradford, in contrast with just 1,840 per 100,000 in Croydon. East London had the worst stats of all when it came to respecting the choice to die at home. Less than a third of patients were allowed this option, despite most patients saying this was their preference.
More than 850,000 people in the UK have dementia in the UK, and numbers are expected to rise to over 1 million by 2025, and then 2 million by 2051 – according to the Alzheimer’s Society. Approximately one person develops dementia every three minutes.
Few people appreciate that the onset of dementia can start at any age – with more than 40,000 sufferers in the UK under 65 at this time.
Dementia checks have been introduced this week from the age of 40s which will encourage people to exercise more and lose weight where necessary. A number of health conditions – known as cardiovascular risk factors – increase the chances that a person will develop dementia during their lifetime. These include having type 2 diabetes in mid-life or later life, having high blood pressure in mid-life, having high total blood cholesterol levels in mid-life or being obese in mid-life (click here to find out more). According to GP Dr Charles Alessi – a lead for preventable dementia in the UK – many people are unaware that there are positive steps they can take to reduce the risk that they develop dementia, while improving their health.
Dementia can affect anyone at any time, and the rate of progression is different for all sufferers. By making a Lasting Power of Attorney, you can nominate who should handle your finances and property, should you lose the mental capacity to manage them yourself. You can also decide who should make decisions as to your personal care and welfare, such as whether you receive care in your home or go into residential care. Contact our Later Life Planning team for more information.