Care in the Com­mu­nity

The Oban Times - - Feature -

Lead­ing long, healthy and in­de­pen­dent lives in Argyll and Bute

We have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to look af­ter our­selves; life­style choices we make as adults af­fect our qual­ity of life in old age. Long-term con­di­tions such as di­a­betes, can­cer and heart dis­ease are com­mon and of­ten peo­ple have many con­di­tions. Sim­ple life­style changes can make a big dif­fer­ence to our health and re­duce the chances of get­ting ill. Healthy liv­ing can also help us stay in­de­pen­dent for longer. One of the most im­por­tant things we can do for our health is spend time with peo­ple we like. Main­tain­ing so­cial re­la­tion­ships and avoid­ing be­ing lonely and iso­lated helps us live longer. Be­ing phys­i­cally ac­tive is an­other easy rem­edy to ill- health; just 30 min­utes most days of the week is bet­ter than any medicine or vi­ta­min. Why not com­bine the two and join a lo­cal walk­ing group, a com­mu­nity gar­den, sports cen­tre or bowl­ing club? There are lots of ac­tiv­i­ties across Argyll and Bute and many cater for all abil­i­ties.

Im­pos­si­ble cost: de­men­tia care bill would take 125 years to save for

An Alzheimer’s So­ci­ety in­ves­ti­ga­tion has laid bare the un­achiev­able cost of de­men­tia care, cal­cu­lat­ing that the typ­i­cal per­son’s bill for de­men­tia so­cial care would take 125 years to save for.

Suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments have placed fund­ing of de­men­tia care squarely on the shoul­ders of peo­ple af­fected, but today’s cal­cu­la­tion re­veals that even if peo­ple pre- emp­tively saved as they do for their pen­sion, it would be im­pos­si­ble to pre­pare for. The char­ity warns the bill will top­ple ‘gen­er­a­tion rent’, who have fewer as­sets than pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions, and are at higher risk of de­vel­op­ing de­men­tia as peo­ple con­tinue to live longer.

De­men­tia can­not be cured or ef­fec­tively treated so it is costly so­cial care, rather than free NHS treat­ments, that many peo­ple with de­men­tia are forced to pay for. Judith from Sur­rey, whose mum, Joan, had Alzheimer’s dis­ease, said: ‘ My mum ended up spend­ing more than £500,000 on her de­men­tia care. She would be dev­as­tated to know her money was gone and she could only leave her grand­chil­dren a frac­tion of what she had hoped. She was so proud to think they would be sorted fi­nan­cially in the fu­ture.

‘ By the end of her life mum couldn’t eat, drink, speak or move any­thing but her eyes, yet she still wasn’t ap­pli­ca­ble for state fund­ing de­spite pay­ing taxes and Na­tional In­sur­ance all her life. She paid for all her care right un­til she passed away.’

As part of its United Against De­men­tia cam­paign, ahead of De­men­tia Aware­ness Week, the char­ity today pub­lishes the find­ings from its largest ever con­sul­ta­tion with peo­ple af­fected by de­men­tia, Turn­ing Up the Vol­ume: Un­heard Voices of Peo­ple with De­men­tia con­ducted with Ip­sos MORI.

The re­port re­veals nearly half (47 per cent) of the UK adults aged be­tween 16 and 75 ques­tioned have not started sav­ing for the care and sup­port they might need in the fu­ture, and a third (37 per cent) agreed that be­fore be­ing asked, they had not con­sid­ered the cost of de­men­tia care and sup­port.

When asked whether the govern­ment should pay for their care and sup­port if they de­vel­oped de­men­tia, more than half (54 per cent) of UK adults in­ter­viewed agreed that the Govern­ment should pay, while just fi ve per cent dis­agreed.

Jeremy Hughes, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Alzheimer’s So­ci­ety, said: ‘ De­men­tia is a dis­ease, as can­cer is a dis­ease, as heart dis­ease is a dis­ease. Get­ting de­men­tia shouldn’t mean fam­i­lies are left bank­rupt or des­ti­tute with noth­ing to leave be­hind.

‘ The so­cial care cri­sis is a de­men­tia cri­sis. Many peo­ple with de­men­tia and their fam­i­lies are buck­ling un­der the in­or­di­nate pres­sure of prop­ping up a fail­ing so­cial care sys­tem that has been starved of fund­ing for decades. Too many

peo­ple are forced to give up ev­ery­thing they own in or­der to care day in and day out for their mother, fa­ther, hus­band or wife.

‘ Re­peat­edly, gov­ern­ments have failed to put a long- term plan in place. On be­half of peo­ple with de­men­tia, I chal­lenge the next govern­ment to cre­ate a long- term, sus­tain­able sys­tem for fund­ing de­men­tia care. Cur­rently, many peo­ple with de­men­tia feel de­serted by the state, and must rely on fam­ily mem­bers and car­ers for the sup­port they need.’

Turn­ing Up the Vol­ume: Un­heard Voices of Peo­ple with De­men­tia is an un­prece­dented look at what it is like to live with de­men­tia now, bring­ing to­gether the views of more than 3,850 peo­ple with de­men­tia, car­ers and the pub­lic, in a se­ries of in- depth in­ter­views and face- to- face and on­line sur­veys.

The re­port also shed light on the poor qual­ity of care which is un­ac­cept­able. A carer in­ter­viewed said: ‘ The care at home wasn’t work­ing right. They couldn’t al­ways feed them in the time they had, so very of­ten they [par­ents] hadn’t ei­ther eaten or drunk. They [the car­ers] didn’t al­ways have time to change the bed­ding. They would ei­ther for­get to do the meds or miss the meds. One time there was a note left to say, “Derek, this is your meds” and he’d never in a month of Sun­days re­mem­ber.’

The re­port re­vealed there is still an on­go­ing stigma around the con­di­tion, and that a sense of hope­less­ness sur­rounds a de­men­tia di­ag­no­sis. It highlights how peo­ple can lose their sense of self, in­de­pen­dence and the abil­ity to live the life they want. How­ever, when peo­ple with de­men­tia are sup­ported and can ac­cess the right care and in­for­ma­tion, it showed they are able to live fulfi lled lives.

Last month Alzheimer's So­ci­ety launched its big­gest ever cam­paign call­ing on the pub­lic to set aside their dif­fer­ences – from age to tastes and so­cial stand­ing to po­lit­i­cal al­le­giances – and unite in the fi ght against de­men­tia, as it is set to be­come the 21st cen­tury’s big­gest killer.

With this re­port’s new in­sight into what it means for peo­ple with de­men­tia, it is more ur­gent than ever that the pub­lic unites and joins the de­men­tia move­ment at alzheimers.org.uk.

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