Did you know that dementia is an illness set to affect over one million people in the UK by 2025 – just ten years from now? It’s a debilitating illness that can ruthlessly rob our loved ones of their memories, their comprehension and their personality – and the number of people suffering from it is only set to rise, meaning research into preventative and curative drugs is more important than ever.
225,000 people will develop dementia this year, which amounts to one person in the UK every three minutes. Although Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, it’s far from the only kind, with vascular dementia diagnosed in 17% of dementia sufferers and mixed dementia affecting 10%.
In the past, the government has delayed access to drugs which can delay the onset of dementia. But in 2010, in a momentous U-turn, the government’s health rationing body agreed to make some of the drugs that can tackle the condition more widely available – Aricept, Exelon and Reminyl can help patients to retain their mental function for longer.
While social care jobs working with sufferers of dementia can be incredibly rewarding, it’s a terminal illness that’s taking loved ones all the time, so it’s imperative that we find a long-term solution.
In 2010, the government spent £36 million on dementia research, which sounds like a lot, but this sum pales in comparison to the funding that is afforded to other conditions such as heart disease and cancer. In the past, the sector’s leading charity, Alzheimer’s Society, has called for an increase in funds, citing the expected rise in diagnosed cases to come over the next decade.
In 2012, prime minister David Cameron pledged to double government spending on dementia, a move which was welcomed by dementia charities and research organisations all over the country.
The additional cash has come in the form of an increase in the budgets of bodies awarding research grants. These bodies include the National Institute for Health Research, the Medical Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council, all of which fund drugs and care research in many different institutions.
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