Raise awareness call on dementia

THE chairman of Exmouth s Alzheimer s Society wants more awareness to be raised about dementia a condition regarded as one of the fastest-growing illnesses in the country, writes Graham Britton. Andy Mack, 62, said if the number of cases continued to ri

THE chairman of Exmouth's Alzheimer's Society wants more awareness to be raised about dementia - a condition regarded as one of the fastest-growing illnesses in the country, writes Graham Britton.Andy Mack, 62, said if the number of cases continued to rise, the NHS could be inundated with people seeking advice in years to come if it was not publicised more. Mr Mack, manager of Fernihurst Care Home, of Douglas Avenue, Exmouth, said: "People need to be made aware of how serious an issue dementia is."There needs to be more awareness raised not just in Exmouth and Devon but across the whole country. I would certainly welcome a local publicity drive on the issue."There are more than 100 types of dementia which, while it is not a natural part of ageing, mainly affects people aged over 65.The most common forms are Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia. It causes the loss of mental abilities such as being able to think and remember.Symptoms can also include changes in personality, mood and behaviour.Figures from an Alzheimer's Society study on dementia, conducted in 2007, revealed Devon was in the top ten worst-hit areas of the country for having a high number of people recorded with the condition.There were 12,177 people registered with dementia two years ago. But, by 2021, it predicted an increase, to a total of more than 17,000.George Faulkner, 82, of Exmouth, said if the number of people with the condition continued to rise then so should the amount of Government money invested into care and services.Mr Faulkner, whose wife has vascular dementia, added: "She started to have problems in 2001. She would wander the streets and could not find her way home."When you retire after working all your life, you naturally want to spend time with your partner. "We wanted to lead an active retirement and to be able to go places. Now, however, we can't do that." In February The Department of Health launched the first ever National Dementia Strategy.The five-year Government plan explains what needs to happen to improve the quality of life for people with the condition and their carers.The strategy lists 17 recommendations for the NHS and local authorities to use as an aid to improve dementia care services.Gordon Lishman, director general of Age Concern, said he welcomed the Government's strategy."If implemented well� the strategy has huge potential to improve the lives of older people and their carers."But, Mr Lishman added: "The care of older people with dementia in general hospitals is often very poor� therefore all doctors and nurses need training to ensure they provide the best quality of care for people with the illness. "Existing resources can be used more effectively� but significant investment is needed to ensure the NHS can meet the health needs of its ageing population."For more information on dementia, contact the Alzheimer's Society national dementia hotline on 0845 300 0336.


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