North Essex/Suffolk: Large rise in dementia cases

NEW cases of dementia in Suffolk and north-east Essex have both hit five-year highs, figures have revealed.

There were 512 people diagnosed with the condition in the Suffolk primary care trust area last year, compared to just 186 in 2006.

The hike in North-East Essex PCT’s area was less pronounced with 171 new cases in 2011, against 97 five years ago.

Rob Butler, a consultant psychiatrist in older people’s mental health, said patients and families were increasingly recognising the benefits of getting early support for dementia.

Dr Butler, of the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust, said: “People are now starting to realise that it’s a better thing to report dementia sooner – it’s not quite so scary then. They can then get support early and the money they are entitled to.


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“GPs are more clued up, too. They are more willing to refer people earlier on. People are coming when they have just been having memory problems for a year or so, before it was four or five years.

“Sometimes the patient does not know what’s going on and neither does the family. Reporting earlier means they can arrange things for the future and talk about the condition.”

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The figures were revealed in a NHS report on the use of anti-psychotic drugs in dementia care.

Experts have warned the drugs – which are sometimes used in response to symptoms such as aggression, agitation, wandering and shouting – can bring on side-effects such as increased risk of strokes and premature death.

Suffolk has seen an impressive decrease in use of anti-psychotic drugs, with 7.53% of newly-diagnosed sufferers being given the medication in 2006, compared to just 1.56% last year.

The situation in Suffolk reflected a downward trend nationally but in north-east Essex there was a slight increase, from 6.19% in 2006, to 7.02% in 2011.

Dr Butler added: “Experts have made it very clear some people do need anti-psychotics – if you have bad hallucinations or you are very agitated it can help.

“But there are side-effects – there’s an increased risk of stroke or death. It doubles the risk but it’s still unlikely though.”

He said with fewer anti-psychotic drugs prescribed there was now more of a focus to control the behaviours in other ways.

“Everybody is playing a role in trying to minimise these behaviours which were managed by the anti-psychotics.

“Care homes are making more of an effort in engaging clients in activities and GPs are becoming more aware of these agitated behaviours and how to manage them,” he added.

Suffolk is facing a huge increase in the number of people aged over 65 diagnosed with dementia, with numbers set to rise from 10,210 in 2011 – costing the NHS �2.4million annually – to 16,352 in 2025.

North Essex/Suffolk: Large rise in dementia cases

There were 512 people diagnosed with the condition in the Suffolk primary care trust area last year, compared to just 186 in 2006.

The hike in North-East Essex PCT’s area was less pronounced with 171 new cases in 2011, against 97 five years ago.

Rob Butler, a consultant psychiatrist in older people’s mental health, said patients and families were increasingly recognising the benefits of getting early support for dementia.

Dr Butler, of the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust, said: “People are now starting to realise that it’s a better thing to report dementia sooner – it’s not quite so scary then. They can then get support early and the money they are entitled to.

“GPs are more clued up, too. They are more willing to refer people earlier on. People are coming when they have just been having memory problems for a year or so, before it was four or five years.

“Sometimes the patient does not know what’s going on and neither does the family. Reporting earlier means they can arrange things for the future and talk about the condition.”

The figures were revealed in a NHS report on the use of anti-psychotic drugs in dementia care.

Experts have warned the drugs – which are sometimes used in response to symptoms such as aggression, agitation, wandering and shouting – can bring on side-effects such as increased risk of strokes and premature death.

Suffolk has seen an impressive decrease in use of anti-psychotic drugs, with 7.53% of newly-diagnosed sufferers being given the medication in 2006, compared to just 1.56% last year.

The situation in Suffolk reflected a downward trend nationally but in north-east Essex there was a slight increase, from 6.19% in 2006, to 7.02% in 2011.

Dr Butler added: “Experts have made it very clear some people do need anti-psychotics – if you have bad hallucinations or you are very agitated it can help.

“But there are side-effects – there’s an increased risk of stroke or death. It doubles the risk but it’s still unlikely though.”

He said with fewer anti-psychotic drugs prescribed there was now more of a focus to control the behaviours in other ways.

“Everybody is playing a role in trying to minimise these behaviours which were managed by the anti-psychotics.

“Care homes are making more of an effort in engaging clients in activities and GPs are becoming more aware of these agitated behaviours and how to manage them,” he added.

Suffolk is facing a huge increase in the number of people aged over 65 diagnosed with dementia, with numbers set to rise from 10,210 in 2011 – costing the NHS �2.4million annually – to 16,352 in 2025.

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