Businesses urged to step up to help dementia crisis

The number of people forced to leave work to cope with dementia is forecast to double within 15 years, a new report has warned.

Public Health England said businesses should be braced for the “huge impact” of the condition and do far more to support carers and those in the early stages of the condition.

The report, from the Centre of Economics and Business Research, estimates that by 2030, the number of people retiring early because they have dementia, or in order to care for loved ones with the condition, will rise from 83,000 to 140,000.

Charities said organisations needed to offering more support and flexible working to help families struggling to cope with the devastating disease.

The figures suggest that the costs of working hours lost to dementia will rise from £1.6bn to £3bn by 2030.

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of Alzheimer's Society, said: "Thousands of people affected by dementia are forced to give up work and are denied a lifeline because of the failure of organisations to change the way they do business.”

"As the condition touches the lives of more people, businesses must gear up to support all people with dementia; staff and customers alike.

Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary said last night: “Dementia is one of the biggest challenges we face, and our ambition is to become one of the best countries in the world for dementia care. We can only do this with the help and support of every part of society.”

A survey of 1,000 private businesses found 8 per cent said they had made some attempts to accommodate a member of staff with dementia.

More than half said they would consider making such adjustments for such employees, but business leaders said there was a lack of knowledge about how best to help their staff and affected consumers.

Polls of 500 households affected by dementia found almost one in four people with dementia had given up shopping after being diagnosed, the report said.

Almost two-thirds said they wished that staff in banks and shops to have a greater understanding of their condition.

Earlier this year, research found that one in eight people in England are now looking after someone with dementia, with more than half attempting to “juggle” paid work with caring duties.

Official figures suggest that almost 700,000 people in England suffer from the condition - a figure which is forecast to double within 30 years, amid a rapidly-ageing population.

Businesses including Marks & Spencer, Argos, Homebase and Lloyds Banking Group have signed up thousands of staff to undergo training to support customers with the condition.

It follows a pledge from David Cameron to sign up 1 million “dementia friends” to make communities more welcoming to those with the condition

The efforts have been supported by The Telegraph, which has campaigned for increased investment in research, improved care for those with the disease and more efforts by society to engage with those with the condition.

It follows research which shows that older people’s brains functions best in the morning.

The Canadian study published in the online journal Psychology and Aging gave 32 adults memory tests at different times of day, while attempting to distract them.

It found that adults over the age of 60 were far better at concentrating in the morning, while time of day made little difference to younger participants.

It came as Moody’s, the financial ratings agency, warned Britain will become one of 13 “super-aged” societies by 2020 that would present a drag on global growth.

The number of “super-aged” countries – where more than one in five of the population is 65 or older – would reach 13 in 2020 and 34 in 2030. Only Germany, Italy and Japan meet that definition today, it said.

By next year 18.1 per cent of the British population will be over 65, but that will rise by 20 per cent in 2025 and 21.2 per cent in 2030.

The rapid ageing could cut global growth rates by around a third, with the world economy expanding by two per cent, down from 2.9 per cent in the period 1990 to 2005.

That is because there are fewer people in the work force, and because there is less money for investment as people stop saving and spending their pension funds.

The ageing populations will put severe strains on the public finances are there are fewer taxpayers and more dependents on the state.

“The demographic dividend that drove economic growth in the past will turn into a demographic tax that will ultimately slow this growth for most countries world wide,” Moody’s said.

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