Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

It's Time That We Started to Care; Dementia Disrupts the Lives of Sufferers and Carers. FIONA EVANS, Whose New Play Geordie Sinatra Was Born of Her Personal Experience and Research, Explains Why We Shouldn't Turn a Blind Eye to Its Devastating Symptoms

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

It's Time That We Started to Care; Dementia Disrupts the Lives of Sufferers and Carers. FIONA EVANS, Whose New Play Geordie Sinatra Was Born of Her Personal Experience and Research, Explains Why We Shouldn't Turn a Blind Eye to Its Devastating Symptoms

Article excerpt

Byline: FIONA EVANS

IDON'T agree with David Cameron on much, but his announcement about putting dementia on the political agenda is one I welcome with open arms.

I'm not just getting on my soap box about this for purely altruistic reasons. As a single woman with no children it is a major concern. If I live to a ripe old age and happen to get dementia, what's the provision of care going to be like for me? We should all be asking ourselves this question and doing something about it now, before it's too late.

People are more afraid of dementia now than they are of cancer and the main reason is because they don't understand it and tend to deal with this by denial and avoidance.

It was not something I'd thought about much until it directly affected my family. My dad was diagnosed with vascular dementia at the end of 2009. As strange as this sounds, it was actually a huge relief. He had been ill for a long time.

Each time he was admitted to hospital, he would be discharged and told that there was nothing physically wrong with him. Nobody ever raised the possibility that he could have dementia. It was only when he reached breaking point and the mental health team became involved that we started to make any progress towards finding out was wrong with him.

There is a shocking lack of awareness about dementia in general medical practice and this needs to be addressed. I honestly believe that if my dad hadn't been surrounded by a loving, supportive family who acted as advocates for him and fought for answers, he would now be dead.

While I am delighted that the Government has pledged money for more research, I am very concerned about the brutal financial cuts that are impacting upon the care sector. son with dementia mentally stimulated, something which is beneficial in slowing down the progress of the disease. As always, I am astounded by the short-sightedness in funding cut decisions. My 78-year-old mother, Mary, is a carer for my dad, who is 80. They have worked all their lives and get very little in the way of State benefits. Once a week she attends a carers' support group. This has helped her enormo usly. It gives her a release from the daily stress of caring, has helped her understand the disease and made her realise that she is not alone in coping with dementia. Her carers' group is now under threat because the person who runs it is having her hours cut.

If support is withdrawn from frontline services for carers (many of whom are nearly at breaking point), surely the financial impact on the Treasury will be far greater? I'm no financial expert, but I know false economy when I see it. There are tens of thousands of people like my parents throughout Britain, who are keen to remain independent and at home. …

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