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Dementia now costs £26 billion a year

elderly_phone140pThe cost of dementia to the UK has hit £26 billion a year – enough to pay the energy bills of every household in the country, according to an Alzheimer’s Society report published today and co-authored by the London School of Economics and Political Science.

People with dementia, their carers and families shoulder two-thirds of the cost themselves. The charity is urging the government to end the artificial divide between health and social care which unfairly disadvantages people with dementia.

Dementia UK: The Second Edition, prepared by LSE and King's College London, is the most comprehensive review of dementia in the UK to date. It reveals how people with dementia and their carers are left footing a £5.8 billion social care bill for help with everyday tasks such as washing and dressing.

The 1.3 billion hours of unpaid care that carers, usually spouses or adult children, provide would cost the state £11.6 billion if they did not provide it for free. Meanwhile the current cost of dementia diagnosis and treatment to the NHS comes in at £4.3 billion and local authorities pick up a further £4.5 billion.

The new research also reveals that numbers of those affected by dementia is soaring. By the next general election in 2015, there will be 850,000 people living with dementia. If current trends stay the same and no action is taken, this number is expected to bypass two million by 2051.

In addition to Dementia UK, Alzheimer’s Society has published Dementia 2014: An Opportunity for Change which provides a snapshot of how well people with dementia are living in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It draws together evidence from a survey of over 1,000 people with dementia. Key findings include:

  •  Just over half of people with dementia (58 per cent), reported to be living well;
  •  Nearly two-thirds (61 per cent) said they had felt anxious or depressed recently;
  •  7 out of 10 people were living with another medical condition or disability as well as dementia;
  • Of those looked after by a carer, 43 per cent said their carer received no help with their caring role;

Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Society, said:

‘This new research exposes the staggering financial and human impact of dementia. It is plain to see that our social care system is on its knees, leaving an army of tens of thousands of unpaid carers bearing the brunt. If you have cancer or heart disease you can quite rightly expect that the care you need will be free. That is just not the case for people with dementia. Families are forced to break the bank to pay for basic care for a loved one.

‘These spiralling costs cannot continue unchecked. 225,000 people develop dementia in the UK every year - that is one every three minutes. While government has woken up to the challenge dementia presents, today’s report reveals we need radical solutions and serious funding commitments to put social care on a sustainable footing.’

Alzheimer’s Society is calling for a successor to the Prime Minister’s Challenge on dementia, which is scheduled to end in just over six months. It should prioritise:

  • A 66 per cent dementia diagnosis rate across all areas so that people do not miss out on the support currently available – with a commitment now to reach 75 per cent by 2017
  • No one to wait longer than 12 weeks from seeing their GP to diagnosis
  • A guarantee that everyone has access to a Dementia Adviser or equivalent following a diagnosis to help them live as well as possible at all stages of the condition

Jeremy Hughes continued:

‘While in recent years there has been a small improvement in dementia diagnosis rates, a postcode lottery still prevails. Everyone with dementia should have access to the certainty of a diagnosis and the right support to come to terms with and manage the condition. If we do not see a nationwide effort to improve diagnosis rates we could see more than a million people living with dementia without a diagnosis by 2051.’

Martin-Knapp140pixelsMartin Knapp, LSE Professor of Social Policy at the Personal Social Services Research Unit at LSE, said:

 ‘The cost of dementia is high, but the key question is what does that cost buy? We need to make sure that people with dementia and their carers get effective and cost-effective treatment, care and support.’

 Martin Prince, Professor of Epidemiological Psychiatry at King’s College London, said:

‘This report highlights that the numbers of people with dementia now needing care and support already pose a significant challenge for health and social care, government and society. Their needs will only be met through concerted and focused attention. The scale of the future dementia epidemic in the UK can probably be limited through more attention to prevention - our progress towards achieving healthier brain ageing needs to be monitored in regular national surveys.’

This report comes the day before the G7 Global Dementia Legacy Event in Canada. Here they will discuss the progress made since the G8 Summit on Dementia Research where they committed to find a cure or disease modifying treatment by 2025.

Notes to editors:

Dementia UK: The Second Edition is available at:   http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?documentID=2759

Dementia 2014: An Opportunity for Change: http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/download_info.php?downloadID=1484

For more information please email press@alzheimers.org.uk or call 020 7423 3595

Dementia prevalence:

 A Delphi consensus approach was used to calculate dementia prevalence, as has been used in the previous calculations (Alzheimer’s Disease International, 2009, Alzheimer’s Society, 2007).

 The independent expert panel comprised 13 leading dementia academics.

 The number of people with dementia in the UK is forecast to increase to 1,142,677 by 2025 and 2,092,945 by 2051, an increase of 40% over the next 12 years and of 156% over the next 38 years.

Cost of dementia:

 Estimates of the costs of health care, social care and unpaid care for people with dementia were generated using the best currently available information.

 The overall economic impact of dementia in the UK is £26.3 billion, working out at an average annual cost of £32,250 per person. This has increased from £17 billion in 2007.

 The health care costs of dementia total £4.3 billion. This is equivalent to approximately 3.4% of total NHS spending in the UK in 2013. Health care costs are particularly high for people with severe dementia living in the community, and those with moderate or severe dementia living in care homes.

 Although health care costs are high, social care costs are 2.5 times higher. For the UK as a whole, these social care costs amounted to £10.2 billion in 2013. This total comprises around £4.5 billion to local authority social services for publicly funded care and around £5.8 billion to services users themselves in terms of privately purchased care and user charges for publicly subsidised care.

 Even though the direct health and social care costs of dementia are high, they are dwarfed by the indirect costs associated with unpaid care and support provided by family members and other carers – totalling £11.6 billion.

For copies of Dementia UK the first edition from 2007, please click here

About Alzheimer’s Society (www.alzheimers.org.uk)

Alzheimer’s Society champions the rights of people living with dementia and the millions of people who care for them

Alzheimer’s Society works in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

Alzheimer’s Society has a plan to deal with dementia. Help us support people to live well today and fight for a world without dementia tomorrow. We rely on voluntary donations to continue our vital work. You can donate now by calling 0845 306 0898 or visiting alzheimers.org.uk

Alzheimer’s Society provides a National Dementia Helpline, the number is 0300 222 11 22 or visit alzheimers.org.uk

About London School of Economics (www.lse.ac.uk)

The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) studies the social sciences in their broadest sense, with an academic profile spanning a wide range of disciplines, from economics, politics and law, to sociology, information systems and accounting and finance.

The School has an outstanding reputation for academic excellence and is one of the most international universities in the world. Its study of social, economic and political problems focuses on the different perspectives and experiences of most countries. From its foundation LSE has aimed to be a laboratory of the social sciences, a place where ideas are developed, analysed, evaluated and disseminated around the globe. Visit http://www.lse.ac.uk for more information.

About King’s College London (www.kcl.ac.uk)

King's College London is one of the top 20 universities in the world (2013/14 QS World University Rankings) and the fourth oldest in England. It is The Sunday Times 'Best University for Graduate Employment 2012/13'. King's has nearly 26,000 students (of whom more than 10,600 are graduate students) from some 140 countries worldwide, and more than 7,000 staff. The College is in the second phase of a £1 billion redevelopment programme which is transforming its estate.

10 September 2014