A LEADING charity has warned hundreds of thousands of older people and their families are being forced to pay a “dementia tax” if they are struck down by the condition as the scale of the care crisis in Yorkshire is revealed today.
The Alzheimer’s Society has claimed that people with dementia are having to fork out for care while people with other long-term conditions are being looked after by the state.
New figures released today by the charity have shown that there are currently 67,630 people living with dementia in the Yorkshire and the Humber region as experts claim sufferers and their families are paying as much as £21,000 a year in covering the costs of social care and unpaid care provided by relatives and friends.
Overall, researchers have calculated that the cost of dementia to the UK – through health and social care costs – has hit £26bn a year. But people with the condition, their carers and families shoulder two-thirds of the cost –about £17.4bn annually.
Alzheimer’s Society chief executive Jeremy Hughes said: “We have this division between health and social care and that people with dementia are at the forefront of the inequity that comes as a result of that.
“If you have another disease, like cancer or heart disease, you actually get all your treatment on the NHS. If you have dementia, where there is no medical intervention that cures you or treats you other than ameliorates the condition at best, most of the support you need comes from social care and most of that comes from the individual family and the family carers or from a severely strapped social care system.
“The dementia tax – whereby people pay their taxes when they are working to pay the NHS but when they need support for dementia they have to pay again because the support they need isn’t on the NHS – is alive and influencing the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people.”
The charity is urging the Government to end the “artificial divide” between the health and social care systems as research is published today into the prevalence and costs of the dementia.
Experts at the London School of Economics and King’s College London found that 225,000 people in the UK develop the condition every year – or one person every three minutes.
They estimated that there will be 850,000 people affected by it by next year, but this figure is expected to soar to two million by 2051.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt maintained the Government is doubling funding for research into dementia, and added: “I want to make sure those with dementia, their families and carers get the help they need.
“It’s precisely because people face such unfair care costs that we are transforming the way people pay for care, capping the amount they have to pay and providing more financial help.”