This website is about Dementia. Dementia is a big problem, it is a terminal illness (see right hand column) and the problem is predicted to get a lot bigger. There are a
number of Dementia types, all of which result in brain failure one way or another as there is no cure. The brain is a very important organ in the body but unlike illnesses
associated with other bodily organs or structures, our Health Service goes to extreme lengths to deny that it is their problem, rather a social problem to dump on Local Authorities,
or in other words you pay for your own care. The website is partly devoted to our experiences with my Mother's dementia and the struggles we had not only in coping with the illness
but also coping with the care system. The remainder of the site deals with issues surounding the problem such as lifestyle choices, risk factors, testing etc. There is a massive amount of
literature published on Dementia, a lot of research but no cure, nor is there is ever likely to be. The best outcome we can expect would be a drug to actively slow the decline. If
a cure was possible, it would be like a 'pot of gold at the end of the rainbow' for a Drug Company and they would be on it by now.
Alzheimer's Dementia is an illness, there is no disputing that, it is a modern day plague and the numbers are huge. In the UK alone we are rapidly approaching one million.
The word Dementia comes from the latin word 'de' meaning 'apart' and 'mentis' meaning 'mind'. Dementia is not a disease as such, it is an
describing a wide range of symptoms associated with memory loss and thinking skills and all that it subsequently entails. It is probably one of the worst things that can
happen to a person, if you loose your memory, you forget how to do simple tasks, you forget how
to look after yourself, you become incontinent and totally dependent on others. Eventually you forget how to eat as all your basic life functions shut down. So the question
is, where is the care and where is the medication. As far as the NHS is concerned, looking after an Alzheimer's sufferer is generally classed as a social care requirement so you
pay. As regards medications, current research is summarised in a later section but Alzheimer's is hardly a vote winner as the people who suffer with the disease by definition
don't vote. So the Government is not going to stump up large amount of cash as they did for HIV, AIDS or the EBOLA hysteria. The NHS will deal with self
inflicted conditions such as AIDS, obesity, drink related problems, drug taking issues etc but not Alzheimer's despite the fact it is a terminal illness and not self inflicted.
How It Was
The website gives an account of what happened to my mother after she was diagnosed with dementia. It is her story and it underlines what an awful thing Alzheimer's
Dementia is, how it is treated in society and the sheer difficulties it poses for the patient as well as for relatives and friends. If you are a carer for someone
diagnosed with dementia and it turns into Alzheimer's and you have not seen this condition before then you are in for a shock. This is what happened in my case. After
the diagnosis, my wife and I started on a journey but we didn't have much idea where we were going. we relied on others, support workers, carers and NHS
'professionals' etc to guide us. We were introduced to a world we didn't really understand, full of buzz words and common phrases to those in the health care business
but not to us. Anyway, I hope we did the best for my mother, we tried, but always at the back of your mind, knowing that we 'could have done better'. Many years beforehand,
when I changed jobs and we moved house, we suggested my mother should sell up and come and live with us.....she did not accept the offer.....if she had have done, the outcome for
her would have been so different.
My mother was 81 years of age when first diagnosed with dementia. in 1996. In the previous year it was clear she was developing 'a memory problem'. Through her GP, we
were fortunate to get support for her through the Age Concern Confused Elderly Support Service (ACCESS) in Ipswich. My wife and I lived 150 miles away so daily visits were
impossible but by arranging carer visits, meals on wheels and ACCESS support, she somehow managed in her own home for 2 years. However, in May 1998, she went 'walkabout',
got lost and confused and ended up in Heath Road hospital, Ipswich. She was there for 4 months, then transferred to Hartismere hospital in Eye. After a month, she was
accepted at a Residential home in Ipswich where she remained until her death in 2002. All these events are covered in detail via the menu above. Subsequent
to her death, I made a claim for retrospective continuing heath care funding. This then led me through a bureaucratic minefield with the Strategic Health Authority, an
Independent Review Panel and finally the Health Service Ombudsman. See the menu above for FULL detail of this CHC process which, in reality, turned out to be a complete
waste of time.
Having had experience of dementia, if I was put in that position again I would not make the same mistakes. If you have a loved one with dementia, it is far better to care
for them in a familiar setting as long as you can, in that way you retain more of the 'person' for longer. However, being a carer for anyone with dementia is very hard work
but it can be rewarding as long as you are well aware of what dementia is and how to cope with it. Books on the Nature/Clinical Stages page (and above) are a good start and of course there is much
more help available from Alzheimer's organisations now which did not exist in 1998. From my own experience I would avoid doctors and hospitals as long as practically possible,
the NHS for the most part just doesn't know how to deal with Alzheimer's effectively and for that matter doesn't have universal facilities anymore. Of course at some stage a diagnosis
will be necessary so try to see a doctor trained in psychiatry of old age. Aricept can be a useful medication to help
stabilize the condition but there are also memory enhancers
(nootropics) available over the counter. Avoid anti-psychotics and anticholinergics at all costs for dementia. At some point however, domestic facilities will probably not be adequate enough to
cater for the later stages of Alzheimers so there is generally little choice but to move to a Care Home. Choose wisely and do the research.
• This site mainly deals with dementia of the Alzheimer's type. Although other types of dementia are not considered in detail, the effects of lifestyle, fitness
and diet considered apply generally across the board.
• A lot of the website is concerned with the Continuing Health Care funding 'process' up to 2002 and all the beaurocracy that goes with it.
Subsequent to this period, 'different' continuing care funding rules may apply, although the NHS still persist with the view that dementia is not an illness, merely a social care
• In America, someone develops Alzheimer's every 67 seconds; by 2050 it will be every 33 seconds.
• It is estimated that there are 35 million dementia sufferes across the globe. That is why tthe term 'dementia time-bomb' is used
• Globally, the number of people with dementia is expected to double every 20 years, reaching 66 million in 2030
• In the UK, 1 in 14 citizens over 65 will have some form of dementia and 1 in 6 over the age of 80.
• Vascular Dementia (VaD) diagnosed clinically accounts for 20% of these with approximately 20,000 developing VaD in the UK. A further 10 - 30% have a conmbination of
Alzheimer's and VaD. Despite the high level of need, there are currently no licensed drugs available for the treatment of VaD.
• For a woman in her 60's, the lifetime risk of developing Alzheimer's is 1 in 6. For breast cancer it is 1 in 11.
• For Americans over 65 years of age, 1 in 9 has Alzheimer's. Over 85 years of age, the risk is 1 in 3.
• About 20% of those diagnosed with Alzheimer's are miss-diagnosed and don't actually have the disease.
• The risk of developing dementia increases as people grow older, hence the term 'senile dementia.
• Mid-life Obesity increases the risk of Alzheimer's by 59%.
• Diabetes increases the risk of Alzheimer's by 54%.
• Those who smoke 2 packs of cigarettes a day have a 15% greater risk of Alzheimer's and a 170% increased risk of Vascular Dementia.
• Only 2% of medical research funding is allocated to Alzheimer's; £11 per patient per year is allocated to Alzheimer's research funding compared to £289 per patient per year for cancer
• Two thirds of people with dementia live in the community; only one third live in care homes; 64% of people living in care homes have dementia.
• Every 71 seconds someone in the UK develops dementia.
• There are 5 million people with dementia in Europe
• It has been calculated that the cost of Dementia in the UK in 2014 hit £26 billion a year through health and social care costs but people with the condition, and their families, are
shouldering two thirds of the cost, around £17.4 billion annually.
• It was predicted that in 2015, there were 850,000 Alzheimer's sufferers in the UK
• There is a grossly unfair 'artificial divide' between health and social care which unfairly disadvantages people with dementia
• Between 1983 and 1993, the NHS removed 17,000 long stay continuous care beds from hospitals and between 1988 and 2001 the loss was 50,600 beds