The real cost of dementia care

New research from Dementia Friends shows that thousands of employees are spending an average of eighteen hours a week, on top of their jobs, caring for loved ones with dementia.

A report compiled by the Centre for Economics and Business Research for Dementia Friends shows that over 50,000 carers will quit their jobs this year to care for a loved one with dementia, and a further 66,000 will have to make adjustments at work in order to find time for their caring commitments. Employed carers spend on average eighteen hours per week, on top of their jobs, looking after someone with dementia. Over fifty per cent of carers have jobs and a quarter of businesses surveyed have employed someone who’s needed to adjust their work patterns in order to care for someone living with dementia. In total, UK businesses are losing £1.6 billion in hours lost to carers’ commitments.

Encouragingly, the survey reveals that businesses are beginning to show signs of a shift in attitude reflecting a step towards a more dementia friendly society. Many businesses are already providing, or would consider providing, a spectrum of support for carers. Almost nine in ten employers (87%) would consider letting carers work flexible hours while over half would contemplate options such as extended leave (61%), working from different locations (53%) and counselling and support (51%). Eighteen per cent of firms surveyed would also consider paying for respite care.

Could you be a Dementia Friend?

The release of the research also marked the launch of a star-studded celebrity campaign by Dementia Friends (a joint initiative from Public Health England and Alzheimer’s Society). Over 800,000 people in the UK suffer from dementia and the campaign aims to highlight that those living with dementia can still lead fulfilling, rewarding lives. It also hopes to promote the creation of dementia-friendly communities across the UK.

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Some of Britain’s best known personalities are involved in the campaign, including: Sir Terry Pratchett, Lily Allen, Paul O’Grady, Alesha Dixon, Chris Martin, Meera Syal, and Amanda Holden. They’ve all taken part in a moving short film singing the Beatle’s classic With A Little Help From My Friends and encouraging people to sign up as a Dementia Friend. Volunteers who take part in the scheme will be able to attend free sessions to learn how to spot the signs of dementia and offer support for sufferers. You can watch the campaign film here.

Darren Housden, UK Business Development Manager, Comfort Keepers UK, said:

“One in three people over 65 will develop dementia so a campaign like Dementia Friends is crucial to encourage more people to learn more about the disease and help take us a step closer towards a dementia-friendly society. We know that the mind-body connection is critical to the overall well-being of older people. We offer an Interactive Caregiving approach which adds meaning and enjoyment to the lives of many older people as well as a sense of self-worth and greater independence, which is the goal of Comfort Keepers’ home care service.”

Find out more about Comfort Keeper’s Interactive CaregivingTMapproach to caring for those with Alzheimer’s or dementia here.