There are an estimated 670,000 primary carers (family and friends supporting someone who may otherwise not be able to manage on their own) of people with dementia in the UK. The current cost of dementia to local authorities and families is £23bn a year.
The majority of people with dementia are cared for at home by a relative or friend and the average age of a family carer is between 60 and 65 years old.
The term “dementia” is used to describe different brain disorders, all of which share a loss of brain function that is usually progressive and eventually severe. Different types of dementia have different possible causes — not all of which are fully understood.
The most common forms of dementia are Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies, which are caused by the destruction of nerve cells in the brain.
These nerve cells cannot be replaced, so the symptoms of a person with Alzheimer's disease get progressively worse as more cells are destroyed.
Symptoms of dementia include loss of memory, confusion and problems with speech and understanding.
Memory problems do not necessarily indicate dementia, as some forgetfulness is part of everyday life. More serious memory problems can be caused by many factors other than dementia. If you are concerned about problems with your memory, make an appointment with your GP.
Few forms of dementia are curable, but there are drugs available that can alleviate the symptoms.
What support is available to carers of people with dementia?
Carers who are already caring for someone with a diagnosis of dementia have rights to information, advice and support. There are a number of national and local organisations that can support carers. A (non-comprehensive) list of organisations can be found at the end of this factsheet.
Carers of people with dementia should consider obtaining support to access the following and also to support carers to plan for the future.
A checklist for carers of people with Dementia:
If you are concerned about someone who you think may have dementia, contact your GP as a starting point. If you do not feel your concerns are being dealt with or taken seriously a number of organisations listed below that may be able to help you:
Alzheimer’s Society provides a range of information resources for carers as well as an advice line and local support services. Find out more on its website or call 0300 222 1122 (for England, Wales and NI). If you are based in Scotland, see the Alzheimer's Scotland website or call its helpline on: 0808 808 3000
Comprehensive guidance on Lasting Power of Attorney and the Mental Capacity Act is available on the Government website, GOV.UK