Dementia services to reach all cultures

Topics covered: Ridouts professional advice

Dementia is one of the biggest health and social care problems facing our society today.

Alzheimer’s Society is in the process of developing tailored programmes to support families from different cultures.

More and more people in the UK are receiving a diagnosis of dementia and getting the right information to help them to cope. However, people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities are underrepresented in dementia services and are routinely missing out.

The Centre for Policy on Ageing and the Runnymede Trust, applied dementia prevalence rates to census data and estimated that there are almost 25,000 people with dementia from BAME communities in England and Wales. This number is expected to increase to nearly 50,000 by 2026 and 172,000 by 2051.

The number of people over 65 originally from south Asia is due to rise sharply. Many people from south Asia who moved to the UK in the 1950s and 1960s did not anticipate retiring here but started families and ended up staying. According to research findings, south Asian ageing population is more likely to develop early onset dementia and may present a higher prevalence of vascular dementia than their white British counterparts.

Findings have also shown that, many people from BAME groups tend to access dementia services later, which can have a negative impact on families who have struggled for longer without support. These difficulties can arise from lower levels of awareness about dementia and greater levels of stigma towards the disease.

When people from BAME communities do access dementia services, they find the information provided confusing and bearing little relevance to their own culture. Alzheimer’s Society is responding to this issue by developing culturally tailored services based on understanding the characteristics of south Asian communities. This includes information services, singing sessions and peer support groups.

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