How Dementia Research Improves the Lives of Patients and Caregivers

“Dementia” is the name for a group of symptoms that usually come slowly, often going unnoticed at first by relatives and friends, up to a point they can no longer ignore the changes in the person’s behaviour and personality. At the time of diagnosis, in many countries, the affected person is at an advanced stage and has problems with everyday tasks, and communication with other people. In fact, many people with dementia never receive a diagnosis at all and all those affected continue to suffer from stigmatisation and isolation. According to the WHO, dementia is a “global health priority”, with the number of affected patients estimated at 44.4 million in 2013 and numbers growing rapidly in the next decades. And it is not only patients who are affected: caregivers, partners and families also are distressed by the psychological, physical and economic consequences of living with dementia. To tackle dementia, there is an urgent need for new health and social care policies, improved health care, and most importantly, direct support and information to transfer the capacity and responsibility for care away from the state. June Andrews is a Professor of Dementia Studies and a recognised leader in the worldwide movement to improve services for people with dementia and their carers. A trained nurse, researcher and policy adviser, she has a highly interdisciplinary perspective on the topic – ranging from the immediate situation of patients and families to health institutions, professional staff and policy makers. At Falling Walls, June explains how her work aims to overturn current ways of thinking about dementia in order to prepare society for a future where the numbers will certainly increase.

June Andrews is the Director of the Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC) in the School of Applied Social Science at the University of Stirling. She is a recognised leader in the world wide movement to improve services for people with dementia and their carers. The purpose of the DSDC is to devise and implement interventions to drive change in clinician behaviour and health and social care organisations in order to achieve the ambitions of national dementia strategies in the UK and beyond. In her current role she is applying those skills across sectors in the care of people with dementia, including the health, social services, private and voluntary bodies who provide care. She is a former trade union leader, NHS manager and senior civil servant.

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