Postponing the inevitable
In expressing their pleasure at being allocated an extra £40m in funding, Dementia Research UK makes the startling claim that dementia is now the leading cause of death in the UK.
Well it startled me. On about two-thirds of the death certificates issued for people with dementia who have died, the cause of death is ascribed as pneumonia so what we have here is the conundrum of causality and co-morbidity that commonly confronts doctors. I think that the most that can be said is that dementia is an increasingly common condition contributing to mortality.
But hey, massaged facts and grant funding are the best of bedfellows. The extra £40m is certainly good news for Dementia Research UK, and for all of us; I think everyone is personally disturbed by the thought of developing dementia. Dementia Research UK chief executive Hilary Evans underlined this when she said the cash had “a crucial role to play if we are to create a world free from the fear, harm and heartbreak of dementia.” And yet we are told not to talk about ‘people suffering from dementia’ – we have to say they simply live with it – and as I’ve said before, if people aren’t suffering, why the desperation to find a cure?
But suppose our 21st Century knowhow allows us to cure cancer, heart disease, arthritis, Parkinsons, stroke, dementia and all the other scourges of old age. What’s left to die of? Dyslexia?
Many are starting to think that advances in medicine have gone beyond the point of sustainability. By all means known to medicine let us try to give everyone a long, enjoyable and productive life, but let us also accept the reality that old age will debilitate us, physically and mentally, and that sometimes, money would be better spent on a properly-funded social care infrastructure and workforce, rather than throwing endless wads of cash at finding ways to postpone the inevitable.
- The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.