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More must be done to combat 'indiscriminate diseases' dementia & Alzheimer’s

3 min read

DUP MP Jim Shannon writes ahead of his Westminster Hall debate this week on Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

It’s hard to find someone whose live hasn’t been touched in some way by Alzheimer’s or Dementia. People up and down the country and unfortunately many in Strangford are affected by these indiscriminate diseases. Alzheimer’s and Dementia know no class, no colour, no creed and no gender – They are diseases that can affect any of us and it’s extremely important that we have the opportunity to discuss ways to further advancements in tackling the diseases.

The number of people living with dementia and Alzheimer’s is steadily increasing. Despite the hard-work of the groups involved and continuous research efforts sadly the trend is going against us.

With an ageing population that trend is set to increase further: According to the Alzheimer’s Society, In 2015, 720,000 of the 856,000 people known to have Dementia were in England, 45,000 in Wales, 70,000 in Scotland and 21,000 in my own home nation of Northern Ireland. If the current trend continues we are going to see that figure increase rapidly to an estimated 1,142,000 by 2025 and 2,092,945 by 2051. This is an estimated increase of 40% over the next decade and an increase of 156% by 2051. Dementia and Alzheimer’s unchecked and without the appropriate attention could become a ticking time bomb.

We need not abandon efforts or diminish efforts to find a cure but taking into account the reality we face and put careful planning in place for the future so that all those with Dementia and Alzheimer’s can get the right care and support they so desperately need.

There are ten key indicators of quality of life valued by people with dementia: Communication difficulties and relationships, Environment and surroundings, physical health, sense of humour, Independence, sense of personal identity, ability to engage in activities and opportunity to do so; Eating, Drinking and Swallowing Difficulties and of course their experience of stigma.

Dignity and quality of life… things that are far too easy to take for granted, yet simple things that are so often lost when one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or Dementia. Doing what we can to help facilitate a better quality of life for those who through no fault of their own are diagnosed with Dementia or Alzheimer’s is really what I got into politics for – to make a difference. Politicians mightn’t have all the answers but working closely with the right people and organisations we can surely have a good go at it.

Jim Shannon MP is the DUP MP for Strangford

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