Dementia awareness boost planned for over-40s – BBC News

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People over 40 in England are to be given more information about dementia to help improve early diagnosis of the condition, the health secretary said.

During their free NHS health check, patients will be told when they should report memory problems to their GP.

Jeremy Hunt said the government’s aim was for the UK to be the world’s most “dementia-friendly” by 2020.

It comes after Alzheimer’s Research UK warned the condition posed a “looming national health crisis”.

Under the plans there is a new aim for 10% of all people diagnosed with dementia to take part in research to try to improve diagnosis and treatment of the condition.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) will also include standards of dementia care in their inspections while current information on which regions are good at diagnosing the condition will be strengthened with Ofsted-style ratings.

Mr Hunt said seven-day services will also improve for dementia patients in hospitals in England, with patients in high dependency care seen and reviewed by a consultant twice a day, every day of the week, by 2020.

What is dementia?

  • Dementia affects 850,000 people in the UK, resulting in the loss of brain cells
  • The most common type is Alzheimer’s disease
  • Early symptoms include problems with memory and thinking
  • As the disease progresses, people can experience difficulty with walking, balance and swallowing
  • Getting older is the biggest risk factor for dementia
  • Experts predict one in three people born in 2015 will develop dementia

How to spot dementia in a loved one

Could lifestyle hold answer to dementia?

Living at home with memory problems

Mr Hunt said: “A dementia diagnosis can bring fear and heartache, but I want Britain to be the best place in the world to live well with dementia.

“Last parliament we made massive strides on diagnosis rates and research – the global race is now on to find a cure for dementia and I want the UK to win it.

He added: “This parliament I want us to make big progress on the quality of care and treatment. Hospitals can be frightening and confusing places for people with dementia, so our new plan will guarantee them safer seven-day hospital care, as well as tackling unacceptable variations in quality across England through transparent Ofsted-style ratings.”

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The government has doubled research funding to 60m a year and invested 150m to develop a national Dementia Research Institute to drive forward new treatments.

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Until recently, people with dementia were effectively cast out from society, but the tide is now turning.

“There are now nearly 1.5 million dementia friends helping to drive this change, and communities up and down the country are working to make streets, towns and cities more inclusive.

“But still many people with dementia face stigma and a health and care system that simply does not work for them – resulting in emergency hospital admissions, extended stays and desperate loneliness.”

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