Care demands and dementia

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Part of Time to Think Differently

By 2018 it is estimated that there will be 7 million older people who cannot walk up a flight of stairs without resting, and 1 million people aged 75+ who find it very difficult to get to their local hospital (1).

By 2030, the number of older people with care needs – such as help with washing and dressing, is predicted to rise from 2.5 million (2010) to 4.1 million – an increase of 61 per cent (2).

More than 70 per cent of people aged over 70, and 55 per cent of people aged over 60 are deaf or hard of hearing. As the population ages the prevalence of hearing loss will grow; by 2031 there are predicted to be 14.5 million people with hearing loss (3).

Almost 2 million people in the UK are currently living with sight loss; it is predicted that this could double to nearly 4 million by 2050. This is being driven both by the ageing population – 20 per cent of people aged 75 and 50 per cent of people aged 90 have sight loss – and a growing incidence in some of the underlying causes of sight loss, such as obesity and diabetes (4).

Rising care needs of people with dementia

It is estimated that there are more than 570,000 people with dementia in England, and over the next 30 years that is expected to more than double to 1.4 million (5).

Dementia is becoming a critically important issue, in terms of both the high personal and social costs related to the disease, and the wider impact on other parts of the health and care system.

Demographic change will drive significant growth in the number of people with dementia, even though the percentage of older people developing some types of dementia (particularly vascular dementia) may decline as a result of reductions in hypertension and other risk factors (6).

Research suggests that approximately one in four patients in acute hospitals have dementia – and that these needs are not currently well responded to (7).

Staff in acute settings and care homes may need extra training in caring for people with dementia and delirium.

The cost of dementia will rise by 61 per cent to £24 billion by 2026 (at 2007 prices), with most of this cost being met by social care and by individuals and families rather than the NHS (8). Development of effective preventive interventions could save significant sums of money.

Projected UK dementia trends

Projected number of people with late-onset dementia by age group (UK)

Source: Knapp M, Prince M (2007). Report. Dementia UKLondon School of Economics, King’s College London and The Alzheimer’s Society

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  1. Magee H, Parsons S, Askham J (2008). Report. Measuring dignity in care for older people. A research report for help the aged Picker Institute Europe and Age UK
  2. Snell T, Wittenberg R, Fernandez J L, Malley J, Comas-Herrera A, King D (2011). Discussion Paper. Future Demand for Social Care, 2010 to 2030: Projections of Demand for Social Care and Disability Benefits for Younger Adults in England: Report to the Commission on Funding of Care and Support, PSSRU 2800/2.
  3. Action on hearing loss (2012). Statistical Bulletin. Facts and figures on hearing loss
  4. Royal National Institute of Blind People (2012). Statistical Bulletin. Key information and statistics
  5. Department of Health (2009). Report. Living well with dementia. A national dementia strategy
  6. Snell T, Wittenberg R, Fernandez JL, Malley J, Comas-Herrera A, King D (2011). Report. Projections of Demand for Social Care and Disability Benefits for Younger Adults in England. Report of Research Conducted for the Commission on Funding of Care and Support. PSSRU Discussion paper 2800/3.
  7. Lakey (2009). Report. Counting the Costs. Caring for people with dementia on hospital wards. Alzheimer’s Society
  8. McCrone P, Dhanasiri S, Patel A, Knapp M, Lawton-Smith S (2008). Report. Paying the Price. The costs of mental health care to 2026. The King’s Fund