What is dementia?
Dementia is a progressive disease which includes symptoms such as memory loss, mood changes and problems communicating and reasoning. Most people affected by dementia are aged 65 years and over and the likelihood of having dementia increases with age. This is important locally due to the fact that Shropshire has a higher proportion of older people than the national average and the population aged 65 years and over is expected to continue to increase.
What do we know?
Risk factors associated with dementia have been identified:
- Age – the disease is more common in older people
- Gender – women are more likely to be affected than men
- Genetics – particularly in early onset dementia
- Medical history – more common in people affected by some other diseases, e.g. multiple sclerosis, Huntington’s disease, Downs syndrome and HIV.
- Lifestyle – diet, smoking, etc especially for vascular dementia
In Shropshire it is thought that just over 7% of people aged 65 years and over have dementia, the figures are higher for women (8.5%) than men (5.5%). This figure is expected to increase to 7.5% for all people aged 65 and over by 2021. The expected increase in Shropshire is likely to be at a faster pace than for the expected increase in England overall. Prevalence estimates for dementia are thought to be more than double the recorded rate in Shropshire.
There are different types of dementia; of which some are preventable (e.g. vascular dementia) and some are not (e.g. Alzheimer’s). Vascular dementia is preventable by choosing healthy lifestyle behaviours such as a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, regular exercise, moderate alcohol intake, not smoking and controlling blood pressure and diabetes (5.5%).
What are we doing?
Currently there are some lifestyle risk management services available, e.g. stop smoking services and some weight management services.
These should help prevent some types of dementia. In Shropshire there is also a memory clinic for patients with dementia, and GPs can assess patients and refer them to the clinic. Patients can then be monitored at the clinic unless they are in need of an in-patient admission.
A care at home team has also recently been established to enable patients with dementia to manage their condition in their own homes. There are also voluntary sector providers, the Alzheimer’s Society and the Red Cross, who provide support to carers of people with dementia.
What can we do?
NICE have published guidance on care for people with dementia (CG42) . They recommend that a person-centred approach should be used when caring for people with dementia. The care should involve a combination of medication and cognitive stimulation (depending on the type of dementia). They also recommend that carers of people with dementia should have access to psychological interventions in order to help them cope with the demands of their role.Last updated: 31 October 2013 Print this page