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Dementia now costs the UK £26bn a year, research reveals

The cost of dementia in the UK has hit £26bn a year, with sufferers, their carers and families shouldering two-thirds of the cost themselves, new research published by the Alzheimer’s Society has revealed. 

The report – Dementia UK: The Second Edition – prepared by the London School of Economics and King's College London, reveals how people with dementia and their carers are left footing a £5.8bn social care bill for help with everyday tasks such as washing and dressing. 

It added that 1.3 billion hours of unpaid care that carers, usually spouses or adult children, provide would cost the state £11.6bn if they did not provide it for free. Meanwhile the current cost of dementia diagnosis and treatment to the NHS comes in at £4.3bn and local authorities pick up a further £4.5bn. 

Alzheimer’s Society is now calling on the government to end what it calls the “artificial divide” between health and social care, which it says unfairly disadvantages people with dementia. 

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of Alzheimer's Society, said: “This new research exposes the staggering financial and human impact of dementia. It is plain to see that our social care system is on its knees, leaving an army of tens of thousands of unpaid carers bearing the brunt. 

“If you have cancer or heart disease you can quite rightly expect that the care you need will be free. That is just not the case for people with dementia. Families are forced to break the bank to pay for basic care for a loved one.” 

The report, which draws together evidence from a survey of over 1,000 people with dementia, also estimates that by the next general election in 2015, there will be 850,000 people living with dementia. If current trends stay the same and no action is taken, this number is expected to bypass two million by 2051. 

There has also been a call for a successor to the Prime Minister's Challenge on dementia, which is scheduled to end in just over six months. The charity says it should prioritise a 66% dementia diagnosis rate across all areas so that people do not miss out on the support currently available – with a commitment to reach 75% by 2017. 

Additionally, no one should wait longer than 12 weeks from seeing their GP to diagnosis and there should be a guarantee that everyone has access to a Dementia Adviser or equivalent following a diagnosis to help them live as well as possible at all stages of the condition. 

Responding to the research, health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said: “I want to make sure those with dementia, their families and carers get the help they need. It's precisely because people face such unfair care costs that we are transforming the way people pay for care, capping the amount they have to pay and providing more financial help. 

“To tackle this devastating condition, we are also doubling funding for research, pushing the NHS to improve diagnosis rates and post-diagnostic support, and focusing national attention on dementia like never before.” 

Professor Martin Prince, professor of epidemiological psychiatry at King's College London, said the report highlights that the numbers of people with dementia now needing care and support already poses a significant challenge for health and social care, government and society. 

“Their needs will only be met through concerted and focused attention. The scale of the future dementia epidemic in the UK can probably be limited through more attention to prevention - our progress towards achieving healthier brain ageing needs to be monitored in regular national surveys,” he added. 

The latest report comes the day before the G7 Global Dementia Legacy Event in Canada, which will discuss the progress made since the G8 Summit on Dementia Research where they committed to find a cure or disease modifying treatment by 2025. 

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email


Concerned   18/09/2014 at 08:51

our mum has had to use all her savings and we are selling her house to pay for her care due to her dementia; she is in a superb home which caters for dementia but it is unfair that she has to pay for care especially as if she had cancer or some other terminal illness ,care would be free.

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