Dementia is now the leading cause of death in the UK. Last year, 70,366 people died from the neurodegenerative disease, figures from the Office for National Statistics and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency show. In 2015, 69,182 people died from the disease. As the population ages and deaths from dementia rise, the disease is now a real health concern for people aged 65 plus.
So it is disappointing to learn that despite the dementia awareness raising initiatives by the Alzheimer’s Society, Dementia UK and others, there are still some people from minority ethnic communities who - because of cultural norms or the stigma associated with the condition - are not informing their GPs when their thinking, concentration and communication skills are beginning to wane.
A dementia diagnosis can be life-shattering for those living with the condition and for their families, often struggling to cope on their own. But it need not be that way. There are brilliant support services out there like the Islington-based Admiral Nursing Service run by Dementia UK.
Admiral Nurses are highly skilled, experienced registered nurses who specialise in dementia care. They act as care co-ordinators, working across health and social care to provide people living with dementia with the compassionate care and support they need to lead engaged and meaningful lives. They also offer emotional support to family carers, providing them with the resilience to continue when the role gets tough.
There is no cure for dementia, yet. However, evidence suggests that with an early diagnosis and the right therapeutic interventions, many people can slow down the progression of the condition, maintain their brain function and lead positive lives. But this can only happen with early action.
If you are concerned about an older relative’s increasing forgetfulness or out-of-character emotional outbursts, please don’t write the symptoms off as an inevitable sign of ageing or retribution for misdeeds carried out by ancestors in a former life. Call the free Admiral Nursing Service Helpline on 0800 888 6678 and get the vital help that you need.