British health and social care system is losing nearly £1bn to mismanagement of dementia every year, according to a report by the International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC-UK).
The failure to prevent, diagnose, and treat depression, diabetes and urinary tract infections (UTIs) in people with dementia has a devastating impact on quality of life, and results in earlier deaths.
Titled ‘Dementia and Comorbidities: Ensuring parity of care’, the report revealed that people with dementia are less likely to have depression, diabetes or urinary tract infections diagnosed, and those that do are less likely to receive the same help to manage and treat these comorbidities.
ILC-UK chief executive Baroness Sally Greengross said: "It is an absolute scandal that doctors, nurses and healthcare workers are too often failing to see people living with dementia as more than simply this disease.
"As such our health system is too often failing to prevent, diagnose, and treat comorbidities among people with dementia."
Hospital in-patients with dementia are more than three times likelier to die during their first admission to hospital for an acute medical condition, than those without dementia.
Figures released by the report show that four of the five most common comorbidities such as a fall, broken / fractured hip or hip replacement, urine infection and chest infection in people with dementia are preventable conditions.
The report was backed by American global pharmaceutical firm Pfizer.
Pfizer global patient affairs lead Roz Schneider said: "This report clearly highlights disparities in care and health outcomes that are associated with people living with dementia who also have comorbid illnesses.
"Patients and their caregivers, as well as others in their support community, can provide subtle yet critical insights about medical changes that affect these patient’s lives. Such a collaborative approach could lessen or avoid the progression of some comorbid conditions."
The ILC-UK recommends that care homes should modify the care plans of residents with dementia to include checklists covering the symptoms of common comorbidities to help ensure early diagnosis and treatment.
Health trusts are required to develop catheter action plans to reduce the incidence of UTIs in people with dementia through unnecessary catheter usage.