in the UK
Dementia is a term for a range of progressive, terminal organic brain diseases, including Alzheimer's. Some 560,000 people in England are estimated to have dementia, with a steeply rising trend expected over the coming years. Some 476,000 people are unpaid carers of people with dementia, and direct costs to the NHS and social care are currently at least GBP 3.3 billion a year, although the overall annual economic burden is estimated at GBP 14.3 billion."Improving Services and Support for People with Dementia (HC 604)" examines what health and social care services are available for people with dementia and their unpaid carers in England, and whether they are providing effective and good quality support. Until 2005 the Department of Health attached little priority to dementia and progress was hampered by a lack of good quality data, by stigma, and by the low level of political and national focus on older people's mental health.The National Audit Offie (NAO) conclude that services are not currently delivering value for money to taxpayers or people with dementia and their families. Whilst health and social care services are spending significantly on dementia, spending is late and too few people are being diagnosed early enough, or even diagnosed at all. Early interventions that are known to be cost-effective, and which would improve quality of life, are not being made widely available.Services in the community, in care homes, and at the end of life are not delivering consistently or cost-effectively against the objective of supporting people to live independently, for as long as possible, and in the place of their choosing. The rapid ageing of the population means that costs will rise and services are likely to become increasingly inconsistent and unsustainable without redesign. The recommendations given in this report cover improving diagnosis and early intervention, improving management of services, and gearing the system to respond to the major challenges of dementia in the future.
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