Essex: New strategy to tackle dementia time bomb

A RISE in the number of people suffering from dementia will be one of the “most significant challenges” to face health services in Essex over the next 10 years, a new report has said.

There are currently 22,000 people living with the disease in the county and that figure is expected to rise to 35,000 by 2025.

A new report aiming to tackle the dementia time bomb will be presented to Essex County Council’s scrutiny committee for community wellbeing on April 14.

The report highlights Essex’s ageing population – which is well above the national average – as the main reason for the rise in dementia.

“With an increasing ageing population, the numbers of people in Essex living with dementia is set to rise by a higher rate than across England,” the report states.

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It predicts that the number of people over 65 will increase by 45% by 2021 and the number of people aged over 85 by 75% in the same time scale.

Claire Lance, Alzheimer’s Society manager for Essex, said: “The number of people with dementia in Essex is rising rapidly so it’s vital that good quality services are in place. In the North East Essex area alone, there are more than 5,000 people with dementia and that number is likely to reach more than 7,000 by 2021.

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“Dementia can happen to anyone and there is currently no cure. But with the right support, people can live well with dementia throughout the condition.”

The estimated average cost of caring for a person with dementia is �25,500 per year which is split between independent carers, social services and the NHS.

“Dementia is a complex condition where environmental, psychological, emotional and biological factors can all impact on an individual’s wellbeing,” the report states. “Although it is a devastating condition there is much which can be done to alleviate its impact.”

It added that the current strategy lacked a “whole system approach” to dementia care, but the new strategy was designed to “meet this challenge and is inclusive of all citizens who may experience dementia, or are the carers of people with dementia, irrespective of age.”

Ms Lance said that the Alzheimer’s Society was working closely with a number of organisations, including Essex County Council and the NHS, to try to improve the situation for people with dementia.

“In some hospitals in Essex, we are providing dementia awareness training and training for ambulance staff. We have made real progress together and are confident that we will continue to do so,” she said.

“Whilst there is still work to do, we feel that this close working is making a real difference to the lives of people in Essex with dementia and their carers and will support them in years to come.

“Good care is possible and good training means that people can get home sooner – which is where they want to be. This also saves hospitals millions of pounds by freeing up beds.”

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