David Cameron labelled dementia in the UK as a '‘national crisis.’' He also promised in March to double the research budget to £66m by 2015.
But both cancer and heart disease receive far more funding than dementia. Cancer receives almost £600m each year from the government.
But many would argue that Alzheimer’s is a far more draining disease on not only the sufferer themselves, but their families who take care of them, much of the time, to the bitter end. Cancer can be cured, Alzheimer’s cannot. David Cameron said: "One of the greatest challenges of our time is what is call the quiet crisis, one that steals lives and tears at the hearts of families, but that - relative to its impact - is hardly acknowledged. The level of diagnosis, understanding and awareness of dementia is shockingly low. It is as though we've been in collective denial."
Alzheimer’s is a slow degenerative disease that generally has no sudden moment of crisis unlike most diseases, leaving those who deal with it on a day to day basis on their own until the disease is at its worst.
The over 55s now fear dementia over cancer, according to a study done in 2008. Click here to read the story.
But despite David Cameron airing his views on the levels of public understanding of the disease, he as well as most of the population seem to forget one of the hardest parts of Alzheimer’s is that it not only affects old people but young people too. The BBC reported David Rogers, chairman of the Local Government Association's community wellbeing board, as saying: "There needs to be urgent action to ensure the way we offer support to older people is fairer, simpler and fit for purpose in order to truly meet the needs of the most vulnerable members of our society." His use of the words ''older people'’ emphasises his complete understanding.
Yes, the problem with Alzheimer’s is mostly a problem for the older generation, but almost nothing has been discussed in government about what can be done to help those who need help earlier on. Those who have early-onset Alzheimer’s have to live in the community, and some even have young children. A forgetful mind often results in unemployment. Symptoms include: forgetfulness, confusion, and difficulty completing simple tasks, problems with communication and personality changes among others. No employers want these traits in their employees. It is also embarrassing for someone younger to be unable to remember simple things, such as what someone is saying to them in a conversation, and with other people unaware that Alzheimer’s can affect younger people this can lead to those with the disease becoming introverted and staying indoors.
The budget should be put further towards research for those who find out early on in life that what they have is ultimately a terminal illness. On top of this it should be put further towards helping those with the disease cope after losing their jobs. Many young people are faced with looking after their parents for a large proportion of their lives, and the increase in budget couldn’t have come sooner. As long as David Cameron keeps his promise, that is.
For more on what David Cameron had to say click here.