This week the Scottish Government published its proposals for key priorities for the new National Dementia Strategy, which will be published at the end of the year. Richard Baker, Team Leader of Age Scotland’s Early Stage Dementia Project, reflects on what is being proposed and what it could mean for those living with Dementia.
The new strategy will be important for the future delivery of services for people with dementia. Age Scotland has taken a keen interest in its development through the work of its Early Stage Dementia Project, funded by the Life Changes Trust.
The report on the engagement process around the new strategy highlights support for continuing work on providing improved post diagnostic support for people with dementia, and Age Scotland agrees that this is vital. The Scottish Government has made a commitment to provide all those who are diagnosed with dementia with one year of post diagnostic support. This has the potential to be of huge importance to thousands of people with dementia. Future planning in the early stages of the condition can have a huge bearing on how well people are able to live with dementia in the longer term. However the challenge is ensuring that people with dementia across Scotland can benefit from this support without having to wait too long to access it. This will require further work, and this is reflected in the commitment in the key priorities to do more to improve the consistency of post-diagnostic services.
One area which is not currently reflected in the key priorities is what can be done to promote healthy active ageing to reduce people’s risk of developing dementia, or delaying its progression for those with a diagnosis. Healthy active ageing has long been a key aspect of Age Scotland’s campaigns, but through the work of the Early Stage Dementia Project we want to raise awareness of its importance with regard to dementia. There is growing evidence that diet, smoking and exercise can have an impact on someone’s risk of developing dementia. We believe raising awareness of this and early stage dementia more widely is important, particularly given that we know that, on one measure, as many as half of those people with dementia have not yet been diagnosed. The third dementia strategy will be able to reflect on real progress made in supporting people with dementia in Scotland, but will also reflect there is a great deal more still to do.
For more information about the Age Scotland Early Stage Dementia Project, please email us on ESDTeam@agescotland.org.uk.