Population ageing is a global phenomenon. This arises from two related demographic effects: increasing longevity and declining fertility. An increase in longevity raises the average age of the population by increasing the numbers of surviving older people. A decline in fertility reduces the number of babies, and as the effect continues, the numbers of younger people in general also reduce.
With increases these two forces, countries in Europe and North America were the first to have a significant proportion of their population aged 60 and over. It is a great achievement of the humanity. However, for those who live longer there is a higher risk of chronic diseases, such as dementia. Older people are more frail, and likely to experience increasing disability and needs for long-term care.
There are around 800,000 people with dementia in the UK. Less than half of people living with dementia have a formal diagnosis. The challenges for the UK government are serious.
The significant gaps in care for dementia sufferers are exposed on an interactive online map put out by the Government as part of a bid to improve the way they are treated by the health service.
The map shows diagnosis rates, referral rates and the frequency of anti-psychotic drug prescription for the 670,000 people with dementia. It is part of a “state of the nation” report on the condition ahead of a G8 nations Dementia Summit in London next month, hosted by David Cameron.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “Dementia is one of the biggest challenges we face as a nation. We must come together as a society to get better at fighting dementia. We all have a role to play in helping people manage dementia better and supporting them to lead healthier lives.This map will help drive up standards of dementia care across the country by showing what excellent care looks like, and challenging the rest to become like the best. Full transparency is the best way to drive up standards and tackle poor performance.”
Dementia and other chronic diseases of the mind and brain have a particularly profound effect on disability and needs for care and support from others. Speech and language therapists work with people with dementia at different stages of the disease. They can
play a primary role in the screening, assessment, diagnosis and research of cognitive-communication disorders associated with dementia and education on strategies for people with dementia, carers and families for optimising the environment for people with communication difficulties.
The views expressed in the blog do not necessarily represent the views of ASLTIP. Publication does not imply endorsement.
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