Crisis point: Families struggling to care for dementia patients

A leading UK charity has discovered families have hit ‘crisis point’ as they are struggling to look after loved ones with the harrowing disease.

One of the main symptoms of dementia is severe memory loss, which can cause patients to forget their own and their families identities. In addition, dementia can affect a person’s ability to manage their reactions to difficult thoughts and feelings, causing them to experience intense states of distress which put carers at risk of harm.

Against this backdrop, an increased number of families struggling to care for someone with dementia have hit ‘crisis point’ when their lived on puts themselves or others in danger. 

Dementia UK, a leading UK charity, have claimed that there are more than 700,000 people in the UK who look after a relative with dementia, with the number of people being diagnosed with the disease growing rapidly.

The charity claims carers, who have been provided with limited information on how to look after someone with dementia, and their loved ones are being failed because health and social care support services are already stretched to their limit, which has led to a surge in calls to its helpline.

Sheridan Coker, the deputy clinical lead at Dementia UK, said: ‘We’re increasingly being contacted by families who are at risk of harm with no one to turn to. We receive calls where the person with dementia has become so distressed that they have physically assaulted the person caring for them, often a family member.

‘The majority of calls come from adult children who don’t live with their parent by are concerned about their behaviour. We also receive calls from spouses who are exhausted from caring for their partner 24/7 and the situation has become critical.

‘Some carers express thoughts of harming the person with dementia because they can no longer cope. These calls are alarming and extremely concerning.’

Data released by Dementia UK today displayed the number of calls to the charity about safeguarding, where the person with dementia or their carer is in immediate danger, almost doubled in 2022 to 173 – more than three a week – compared with 90 the year before.

Against this backdrop, the charity is projecting that it will receive nine times more safeguarding calls in 2023 than it did in 2021. It has developed a guide for families, which can be accessed in full here, that features information, advice and a list of resources when considering personal safety.

Image: Openverse 


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