Now that the UK government has chosen dementia as a subject for discussion for the G8 many health and social care workers (myself included) had to go and look up what a G8 is. You see, I thought a G8 was about contentious issues like whether rich countries like us bankroll despots in developing countries, and what our view is on the weapons they use on their citizens and potentially on us.
I thought it was about wars and poverty. I did not think it was about domestic issues. I know very well that the number of people with dementia in the developing world is increasing much faster than in G8 countries, due to the relative improvements in public health that mean people don’t die so young. I also know that dementia costs more than cancer, heart disease and stroke put together in the developed countries, so it’s a big financial issue for G8 people. But for the UK, and England in particular, dementia is a domestic issue. It’s about how we get our GPs, psychiatrists and other clinicians including nurses to meet the human rights of people with dementia by giving them access to a diagnosis.
My priority would not be a “dementia friend” or “singing for the brain” or “colour coding” my hospital ward. My priority would be an answer to the question “What is wrong with me?” so that I could start caring for myself. So how does a G8 help me with that? Because less than half the people with dementia in England have their diagnosis, I hope that the G8 discussion rises above the temptation to focus on a “cure” as a way of making the problem go away. If Mr Obama managed to use the wealth of the USA to find a cure for Alzheimer's Disease by Christmas, we’ve got the best part of thirty years of life for developed countries people for whom it is already too late. And in developing countries they’ll probably not be able to afford it.
So having looked it up and thought very carefully about what I’m reading...I’m still asking, “What is this actually all about?”