More needs to be done to look out for dementia sufferers who live alone, West Sussex County Council has been told.
The advice came from Dr Kate O’Kelly (Lib Dem, Midhurst) during a meeting of the health and adult social care scrutiny committee, where the county’s dementia strategy for 2020-23 was discussed.
The strategy builds on the work carried out over the past five years to improve life for people with dementia, their families and carers via pathways such as prevention, diagnosis and support.
it mentioned a number of hard to reach groups, which Dr O’Kelly said should include people who lived alone.
She added: “Some people living alone don’t have any carers or any family and they’re very isolated.
“Those living alone, by definition, are already more likely to be socially isolated but do not have a live-in carer as mitigation.
“They are a group that we must look out for.”
Chairman Bryan Turner (Con, Broadwater) agreed.
He said: “When you’ve got a couple together, one nags the other if that one’s getting a bit forgetful and that’s why they go off for the memory assessment service.
“But if you’re on your own, who does that?”
A report to the meeting mentioned that a dementia assessment service had been rolled out which had worked with hospitals to reduce the waiting time for a scan from 32 weeks to five to eight weeks.
Dr O’Kelly called that reduction ‘pretty remarkable’.
Looking at the importance of prevention, she told the meeting that changes to the brain happened some 15-20 years before dementia made itself known.
She stressed the need for people to be more physically active, citing the increasingly popular park runs which take place all over the county as a good way of doing this.
The report said some 16,650 people in West Sussex were living with late onset dementia, including 500 younger people, with the figure set to rise by more than one-third over the next decade, to 22,450.
Amanda Jupp, the council’s cabinet member for adults and health, said: “A timely diagnosis of dementia is vital, not only for those affected by the disease but also for their family and carers.
“This strategy sets out how the county council and NHS clinical commissioning group are resolved to make West Sussex the best place to live with dementia and how we aim to do this, as well as how we can provide the help and support that is needed.
“From prevention to diagnosis and delivery of services, we must ensure that there is adequate and meaningful provision to help and support those who are affected by this disease.
“I am sure we all know people who are affected by this disease and it is important that we do our utmost to make sure we do all we can to provide the best services and support as well as reassure those who are affected that they can live well despite this diagnosis.”
Report by Karen Dunn, local democracy reporter