Dementia: What are the key inequalities?

Lewisham is the 39th most deprived borough in England (out of 354 local authorities) and in the bottom third of most deprived London boroughs. The socio-economic inequalities affect all aspects of health, ranging from risk factors to health outcomes and access to services. Much of the health inequalities agenda focuses on mortality rates and life expectancy but quality of life is also crucial. People with long-term and progressive illnesses, such as dementia, are affected by their socio-economic position but there is relatively little coverage of this in key national documents. Many older people living on low incomes may be at significant socio-economic disadvantage, which is known to have adverse effects on physical and mental wellbeing.

There is some evidence that people from BME groups are more likely to suffer from dementia at a younger age. While 2.2% of the general population with dementia are of early onset, the proportion is 6.1% in BME groups (Alzheimer’s Society, 2011). There is currently insufficient information on the uptake of services and barriers to service to ascertain the impact of inequalities. It is important that this information is captured as part of the development of new services and improves in existing services. Of the dementia patients admitted to hospital between 2004/5 – 2010/11, overall 30% came from BME groups and 12.8% came from Black British, Caribbean, African or other groups. This compares to 22.7% BME groups in the over 65 population and 14.4% in the Black British, Caribbean, African or Black Other groups. The projected increase in the proportion of older people from BME groups will require services for people to cater for the changing BME elderly population. This will include ensuring that services are culturally appropriate (including social care services), translation services are available and information is available in a range of languages and that co-morbidities which are more common in certain ethnic groups are managed appropriately.







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