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By Debbie le Quesne

Dementia, the news headlines and how we can we help?

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Dementia is big news at present – and I mean massive. Our TVs are full of programmes revealing the true extent of the problem and the varied attempts at solutions.

Last night was no different with the Tonight team from ITV broadcasting Living with Dementia,

By 2021 the number of people living with dementia will reach about a million, with one in three living today developing the memory-loss condition.

It’s also estimated that almost all families will be affected.

Rightly so, the Prime Minister has called it a “national crisis” and has promised to double the budget for research into the condition.

And I would join a growing lobby of people who would say to the PM that he needs to match his good intentions with hard cash and fund the resources needed to deal with the crisis.

Despite little funding coming on to the frontline of caring for dementia sufferers, the government says it is committed to tackling the problem and is increasing research funding to £66m next year.

And they speak of hopes of a cure by 2025.

Last night’s footage featured producer Becky Colls’ grandmother, who has had to move to sheltered accommodation because of her Alzheimer’s.

What surprised – indeed, shocked me – were the small numbers of specialist Admiral Nurses who care for dementia sufferer. Just 117 throughout the country and apparently they’re funded locally, because the government thinks it’s best the way as their numbers can be tailored to regional demand.

Well, let me say – it’s not working! Why? Because the local authorities have not got any budget to fund such appointments. And where does the budget come from? We all know!

The programme highlighted Playlist for Life, a new initiative aiming to stimulate memories through music therapy. It’s not a new concept, but the programme showed two families playing uniquely personal music to their loved ones to try improve communication with them. The results were wonderful.

Also in focus was a vitamin B trial that appeared to slow down memory loss in the early stages of dementia.

With Dementia Awareness Week is looming (May 18th to May 24th) it’s a good time to reflect on how we all can help.

We can’t replace professionals, but we can become a Dementia Friend. See http://www.dementiafriends.cog.uk

For info: Admiral Nursing DIRECT helpline – 0845 257 9406 or emaildirect@dementiauk.org

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