Having an early diagnosis gives a person a modicum of control to plan and make informed decisions while they are able to. What's the alternative? Skipping those chapters of choice and jumping straight to the deepest part of the condition. That's cheating future generations out of quality dementia care.
It's a pivotal time for the care sector. As people live longer and require more support to live life to the full in old age, the shortfall in carers is expected to reach 718,000 by 2025. We need to rise to the challenges of our ageing population, but in order to do so, we need to challenge the frankly tired and out-dated perceptions of care.
Amongst the numbers, economic measures of contribution and technical policy analysis sometimes the stories and reasons behind policy can get lost. Policymakers - both elected and civil - should make sure they talk to people at the sharp end and heart of our care system, so that decisions are based on a full understanding of the realities for carers and their families.
My Dad is a carer - he cares for Mum. We're lucky in that Mum is relatively independent at the moment, she can do most things herself... Carers are incredible, they really are. They are hidden, hardworking and humble. Please try and notice them this week. Please reach out to them. If anyone deserves an hour of your time, it's them.
Ten years later, what are my reflections on my experience as a carer? First, I never saw myself as a carer. The word 'carer' implies forced responsibilities. I was simply and overwhelmingly John's girlfriend who only wanted the best for him. We had wonderful times together - cancer isn't all bad - and his illness only made us appreciate each other even more.
Mental health affects millions of people all over the world and whether you're caring for somebody who suffers from a mental health condition or you feel you may be suffering from a mental health issue yourself, one thing that is important is finding information that will help you to understand these conditions in more detail because knowledge is power.
Most of us say we would do anything for our loved ones. And we mean it - we all know instinctively how precious our relationships are and how much they contribute to a life well lived. But when family and friends start to need more and more help to maintain their quality of life, the reality of doing anything, and providing support day in, day out, can take a very heavy toll.
For the 10,466 carers in my constituency getting the right support is crucial. Caring for an older or disabled relative or friend can take a serious toll on carers' mental and physical health, their relationships and family finances. Without support this can lead to carers being overwhelmed by stress and anxiety, and at worst this can bring about exhaustion, suffering a physical injury and needing care for themselves.
At 19 years old I was hideously unprepared for the caring role thrust upon me. Yet, when my girlfriend's health deteriorated overnight, I willingly stepped up to meet the challenge. We're now married and I give my wife full-time, around the clock, care. Along with millions of other carers in the UK, the avoidable cost of caring has changed my life beyond recognition.
I am always immensely uncomfortable when anyone tries to put a monetary value on dementia, purely because I know that there is so much more to calculating the 'cost' of dementia than could ever be accurately represented by the use of pound signs. The emotional, all-encompassing, life-changing (and life-shortening) effects of dementia reach far and wide into every family affected.