There are about 50 million people across the world who have dementia, with almost 10 million every year being diagnosed. But, what exactly is dementia and how are healthcare organisations transforming their services to provide greater support to dementia patients?
What is Dementia?
Dementia is a progressive disease that deteriorates everyday cognitive functions, such as memory, orientation, and comprehension. It affects everyone differently, but there are common signs and symptoms to keep an eye out for which can be linked to any of the three stages below:
Early Stage: Also known as early on-set dementia, this stage is often overlooked. People can sometimes confuse this stage as part of changes when aging. Of course, it’s natural that as we age, our bodies and minds may lose a bit of sharpness, but don’t confuse this with the early stage of dementia. Symptoms can include forgetfulness, losing track of time or day, and becoming lost in a place you are familiar with.
Middle Stage: This is when dementia can become more apparent. Signs of middle stage dementia often include becoming forgetful of recent events, forgetting names of familiar people, behavior changes including mindless wandering and becoming lost even at home.
Late Stage: This stage makes it necessary for people to look after a dementia sufferer more, as cognitive interruption becomes more noticeable. Symptoms of the late stage of dementia can include forgetting the names and faces of those closest to you, becoming unaware of the time or what day it is and some even experience trouble walking.
Unfortunately, dementia has no cure, but there are ways to prevent it as best as possible. If you think you may be dealing with any of the symptoms listed above, it is highly advisable that you immediately visit your doctor, so they can conduct a thorough examination. Your doctor is well equipped to assist you and give you specific advice on what to do to help manage dementia or the risk of having it.
How Are Healthcare Organisations Providing Support?
In certain cases, the NHS are providing funded nursing care to assist those affected by dementia. This help can range from paying for care in your own home to assisting with care home fees. Unfortunately, for many with dementia, it’s difficult to meet the criteria, as they often are assessed as requiring social care help rather than healthcare. If this is the case, you may still be entitled to receive a flat weekly amount for nursing care if you are admitted in to a care home.
If you’re needing care to be provided in your own home, how much you pay will depend on the outcome of a financial assessment. If your care would leave you with less money than that said to be a ‘basic level’ living allowance, you won’t be charged for homecare. It’s at your individual local authority’s discretion whether to count severe disability premier, personal independence payment, disability living allowance or attendance allowance as income.
If your income lies above the basic level threshold, you’d be expected to contribute towards your care, with the local authority picking up the rest. Again, the amount this is depends on your local authority.
Although the local authority can’t stop the service during any dispute if a person refuses to pay for homecare, they can do if the decision is made that a person has the mental capacity to make the decision and understand any consequences.
The NHS is also responsible for any related after-care if a person with dementia has been hospitalised under Section 3 of the Mental Health Act 1983.
It’s clear that dementia can be a huge burden financially and there are processes in place to make care as affordable as possible during this difficult time.
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