Dementia rates could double by 2040, according to a study by University College London. The figures predict 40% more people will suffer from the condition than the previous forecast by UCL in 2017, with the consequent extra burden this will cause for health and social services. Responding to the news, Charity Director of Age UK, Caroline Abrahams said there is ‘no avoiding’ the need for more NHS and dementia research funding. ‘Our politicians have to face up to that and lead a national conversation about how we can raise these funds in the years to come,’ she said.
Around 900,000 people are thought to currently have dementia in the UK. According to this latest study, published in The Lancet Public Health journal, this will rise to 1.7 million by 2040. The rate was calculated through studying nine sets of data from people over 50 in England between 2002 and 2019. The study noted that despite a ‘small decline’ in people diagnosed with dementia between 2002 and 2008, there has been an upward trend since. The study’s author, Professor Eric Brunner said: ‘Our research has exposed that dementia is likely to be a more urgent policy problem than previously recognised.’
- Deaths linked to dementia double in 15 years
- Getting dementia diagnosis right, and in good time
- The role of the nurse in screening people with suspected dementia
In 2019/20, the Government invested £104.7 million into research into dementia. A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said that this would rise to £160 million a year by 2024/25. The spokesperson added that a £570 million Market Sustainability and Improvement Fund (MSIF) Workforce Fund will increase adult social care capacity, improve market sustainability, and enable local authorities to improve adult social care services.
The Homecare Association welcomed the MSIF Workforce Fund, announced in July this year, but called upon the Government to ‘disperse this funding in a way which prioritises areas of higher deprivation.’ This view was echoed by Professor Brunner, who said that, despite financial circumstances, there is an imperative to ensure every person in need of care ‘is able to access the help and support that they need’.
Although it is agreed that the increase in cases is mainly due to an ageing population, the onset of dementia symptoms has also increased in pace. However why this is, is not known. Ms Abrahams explained that support in improving the physical and mental health of those living with dementia can help slow down the rate it develops. But to achieve this, Ms Abrahams stressed that more investment is needed. ‘This new analysis shows how important it is that we continue to invest in research to prevent and treat dementia,’ she said. ‘As a society we need to do a lot more to support older people living with dementia and their families to live well, whether that's in their own home or a care home.’