Suffolk/Essex: Call for more support as dementia timebomb ticks in East Anglia

Alan and Carol Boon from Martlesham Heath

Alan and Carol Boon from Martlesham Heath - Credit: Archant

A dementia timebomb is ticking in East Anglia with figures revealing more than 82,500 people are living with the condition.

But an Alzheimer’s Society report, released today, shows that many of those are not living with the right support.

The charity is calling on the Government to end the divide between health and social care which disadvantages people with dementia and to commit to a successor to the Prime Minister’s Challenge on dementia which is due to end next May.

Dementia UK: The Second Edition, produced by the London School of Economics and King’s College London for the charity, shows there will be 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK by 2015, costing the UK £26billion a year.

Despite the spiralling costs, two-thirds of which is shouldered by people with dementia, their carers and families, tens of thousands of people with dementia are still living without the right support to do everyday task such as getting dressed, eating and going to the bathroom.

According to figures, there are more than 11,700 dementia sufferers in Suffolk and nearly 25,000 in Essex.

Carol Boon’s husband, Alan, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease two and a half years ago after experiencing memory loss.

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Mrs Boon, who lives in Martlesham Heath, said: “We saw the GP and Alan had a memory test before being referred to the memory clinic where he was initially diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment.

“About a year after that he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It came as a shock but it was a relief to get a diagnosis and know what you are dealing with.”

The couple, both aged 69, said initially they received “fantastic support” from the memory clinic with visits from a nurse to ensure Mr Boon was on the right course of medication and had someone to talk to.

“But after about a year she told us she wouldn’t be able to visit anymore and since then we have been pretty much left on our own,” Mrs Boon added. “The support we get from Alzheimer’s Society is fantastic but it’s very difficult not having support on the medical side.

“For other health conditions, that support structure seems to be there, so why not dementia? The government really does need to do more.”

As well as Dementia UK, Alzheimer’s Society has also published “Dementia 2014: An Opportunity for Change” which provides a snapshot of how well people with dementia are living in the UK.

The survey, of more than 1,000 people with dementia and 2,000 members of the public, found just 58% reported to be living well and nearly 61% said they felt anxious or depressed. While 43% said their carer received no help with their caring role.

Erika Aldridge, Alzheimer’s Society regional operations manager for East of England, said: “With over 82,000 people living with dementia in East Anglia and many more friends and family affected by the condition, it is vital the government takes action.

“We know that parts of the region are leading the way as some of the best performing areas for support after diagnosis. However, despite good progress, today’s research highlights the huge financial and human impact dementia is having.

“In the UK one person develops dementia every three minutes. We must do more to ensure that everyone living with dementia gets the care and support they need.”

The number of people with dementia in the UK is predicted to increase to just over two million by 2051.