Letter to the editor: Dementia awareness

Dementia has been very prominent in the news recently and it’s good that the government finally seems to be taking this issue seriously, especially during Dementia Awareness Week.

Did your readers know that there are currently over 800,000 people with dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, in the UK? As the population ages, this figure is set to rocket to over a million people by 2021 and a staggering 1.7 million by 2050. If we are to avert a full-scale dementia crisis, we need to take action now.

Caring for a loved one with dementia can be a lonely, stressful experience at the best of times, but what’s worse is that a great many people providing care for loved ones aren’t getting any support at all because they don’t even realise they are carers. Instead they are struggling on, alone and unsupported, risking their own health in the process. How many tens of thousands of people may be in this desperately sad situation right now?

I work for a charity called Vitalise, one of only a handful of organisations providing specialist respite breaks for families coping with the devastating effect of Alzheimer’s and dementia, as well as other disabilities. Each year many thousands of people take much-needed breaks with us, but this is only the tip of the iceberg. Urgent action is needed now to reach out to the UK’s invisible army of carers and give them the support they so desperately need.

If you or someone you care about is affected by a disability - including Alzheimer’s or dementia - and you would like to know more about how Vitalise can help, please call 0303 303 0145 or email bookings@vitalise.org.uk or visit www.vitalise.org.uk.

Colin Brook