Dementia is a progressive disorder that affects how the brain works, in particular the ability to remember, think and reason. Dementia causes a decline in cognitive function that is beyond what would be experienced in normal aging.
The definition of Dementia is a syndrome of acquired intellectual loss in which memory, and at least one other cognitive function is impaired. These impaired cognitive functions can be language (Aphasia); movement (Apraxia); object or situation recognition (Agnosia); or disturbance of executive function such as problem solving, initiative or decision-making.
The number of people living with Dementia in the UK is expected to double over the next 30 years, and we are now facing an enormous global health and social welfare challenge, as big as that posed by cancer, heart disease or HIV/Aids.
On a global scale, the predicted financial costs are enormous but even more so, on an individual level, the detachment to identity, unfamiliarity in interpersonal relationships, and the misery this illness induces is heart-breaking.
The cost to the UK is £26b a year, and people with Dementia occupy 25% of the UK’s hospital beds, and approximately 69% of care home residents have Dementia. Considering these significant numbers, it is not surprising that one in three people in the UK will care for a person with Dementia in their lifetime, and that people over 55 years old fear Dementia more than any other disease.
In the UK the number of people living with Dementia is around 1.4% of the population. This is a troubling statistic, but nowhere near the 1.9% in Germany and 2.1% in Italy, where they have an aging population and low birth rates.