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Inheritance & Welfare Specialist Ciara Hannawin discusses the future of Dementia

It costs the UK economy £23bn a year. The Prime Minister has declared it a “national crisis”. Minister of State for Care Services, Norman Lamb has said it is “one of the most feared and misunderstood conditions”. They are referring to Dementia, a condition that over 800,000 people in Britain are living with. The Independent on Sunday reported these statistics in Sunday’s paper (16 September). Apparently Britons now fear Dementia more than Cancer. We all try to reduce our risk of Cancer & many of us have plans in place in case they are debilitated by Cancer for a time. Research by the Alzheimer’s Society shows that less than one in ten people over the age of 55 have plans in place when it comes to Dementia. Do we fear it would be tempting fate? Do we think it won’t happen to us? We need to challenge Dementia. It costs our economy twice what Cancer costs and yet only 2.5% of the Government’s medical research budget is spent on research into Dementia. Cancer research receives 25% of the budget. There are things we can do that reduce our chances of getting Dementia but if the symptoms appear, it is not something that should be ignored or accepted. Lots can be done to help both the sufferer and their families and carers. There should no longer be a stigma attached to Dementia. We all need to challenge it together. In ten years, the forecast is that over one million people in this country will suffer from Dementia. If the healthcare system becomes saturated as predicted, it seems we will have enough problems to deal with when it comes to appropriate diagnosis and care. One thing we can ‘get out of the way’ now is preparing a strategy for our families if there’s a diagnosis of Dementia. The first (and probably the easiest) step we should all take is to sort our financial affairs so we know that our money, as well as our family will be looked after by those we know and trust.

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