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PM pledges to double funding to help cure and treat dementia

TRAGEDY: William Lee, a dementia patient who died after going missing earlier this year

PRIME MINISTER David Cameron has agreed to double spending on dementia as new figures reveal the global number of sufferers is expected to treble to 135 million by 2050.

Speaking at the G8 dementia summit on December 11, the British leader said: “It’s not just about finding a cure for dementia but preventing it, delaying it and, critically, helping those who live with dementia to live well, and live with dignity.”

The world’s richest countries pledged to increase funding for research from £66m to £132m.

It is estimated that 25,000 people from black and minority ethnic (BME) groups in England and Wales are living with dementia – a debilitating disease associated with a continuous decline of the brain and its abilities.

Yet charities have warned there is little or no support to cater to their needs.

The Race Equality Foundation, a national charity that promotes race equality in social support and public services, has been working with the charity Age UK to highlight the poorly funded research into why the African and Caribbean community in the UK had a higher prevalence of vascular dementia than other groups.

The charity published a report call Dementia in black and minority ethnic communities: Meeting the challenge, last month.

Jabeer, the Race Equality Foundation’s deputy chief executive whose mother was diagnosed with dementia, said: “With a major shift in the number of black and minority ethnic people aged over 65, and increasing evidence of earlier onset in African Caribbean and South Asian people, the need for research, care and support in these communities cannot be neglected.”

Though the number of BME people with dementia is expected to increase over the next few years the condition is also widely misunderstood.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “Raising awareness and ensuring that dementia care and support services – including those provided by voluntary organisations such as local Age UKs – are culturally appropriate, accessible and fully inclusive of older people from black and minority ethnic communities, their carers and families, is vital if we are to meet the needs of us all as we get older.”

While the diagnosis of dementia is improving, the illness is the most feared health condition in over 65.

According to the Alzheimer’s Society, one in three people in this age group will die as a result of the mental disorder.

Treating dementia costs the economy £23bn a year, more than cancer, stroke or heart disease combined.

Izzy Lee, 36, from Islington, north London, said her father was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, when he passed away earlier this year.

William Lee went missing from his east London home on March 21 during a cold front. His body was found four days later in the north London borough of Barnet hours after being stopped and questioned by police officers who failed to identify him as a vulnerable adult.

The family have accused the police of missing a chance to save him and an inquest into his death will be held at North London Coroners Court on December 19.

“My dad was a good man and for the sake of his memory and to help other people. I want them to acknowledge that this could have been avoided and for them to take the necessary steps so this never happens again,” Lee said.

She is now calling for the police to be trained about how people are trained affected by mental health issues.

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