Ahead of the General Election on 8 June, Alzheimer’s Society is calling on all political parties to find a social care solution that works, and ends the injustice people affected by dementia have long experienced.
Every dementia diagnosis presents big decisions for friends and family. One of the biggest of these is deciding who is best placed to deliver the complex care needed for someone with dementia as their condition progresses.
A carer is anyone who cares, unpaid, for a friend or family member who due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction cannot cope without their support. Anyone could be a carer, and although it can be extremely rewarding and very positive in lots of ways, it can also leave you needing support and feeling isolated.
There are currently around 700,000 carers of people with dementia in the UK; without them, our health and care system could not function. Carers have a huge role to play for the person with dementia, not to mention also shouldering two-thirds of the cost of dementia themselves at a shocking £17.3 billion a year.
Caring for a person with dementia is unlike caring for a person with any other condition, because of the complex, unpredictable and progressive nature of the illness. As dementia progresses, the carer has to adapt to a changing relationship with the person with dementia, restrictions to their own lifestyle and learn to understand and cope with the condition. Consequently, carers of people with dementia are likely to have higher than normal levels of stress, and report higher levels of depression than carers of other older people.
Carers are buckling under the pressure of propping up a failing social care system that has been starved of funding for decades, with many carers struggling to juggle their lives and needs with caring responsibilities. Carers of people with dementia are often in their 50s or 60s and are balancing work and caring for parents, or they are older people, regularly in their 80s, caring for a partner. Carers in need of support can call our National Dementia Helpline. We also encourage carers to talk to their GP’s about what support is available locally.
The next Government urgently needs to address the pressures on health and social care, to ease the burden on family carers.
Unite with us and call on the next government to fix care now, for people affected by dementia today and for all of us who could be in the future.