Dementia is a huge topic, encompassing many different aspects that stray into the territories of (in no particular order) healthcare, social care, science, community, family life, wider society, therapeutic practitioners, the voluntary sector, academia, finance, pharmaceuticals and yes, politics. 'Ownership' of it is hotly contested - it is a health issue, a care issue, something that governments must lead on or something that only the individuals living with it, and their families, truly understand?
We're living longer. In just the last two decades, average life expectancy has risen by four years. But living longer doesn't necessarily mean living healthier: half of these extra years of life are marred by pain and trips to the doctor due to chronic conditions like diabetes, cancer, joint pain, asthma, osteoporosis, stroke and heart disease...
When it comes to my great passion, dementia, the UK's major charities - Alzheimer's Society, Alzheimer's Research UK and Dementia UK - are all becoming household names. Interestingly though, when my story of my dad's life with dementia was unknown, it was a charity hardly anyone in the dementia world talks about who showed most interest in me.
Progress is urgently needed in understanding Alzheimer's disease and in finding effective treatments. Available drugs can help stabilise memory loss and confusion for a few months in about half of patients, but no preventative treatments exist and none that slow the inexorable development of the disease.
Dementia Awareness Week, organised by the Alzheimer's Society, is this week. It is an annual event designed to shed some light on a condition that is all too often often misunderstood, and to encourage anyone who feels as if they, or someone they are close to, might be suffering with symptoms to take some action.