Dementia sufferers are "dying from loneliness" as national charity calls on Leeds supporters to lobby government

People living in care homes are 'dying from loneliness' warns a charity campaigning for dementia sufferers.

Tuesday, 16th February 2021, 6:00 am

The Alzheimer's Society is urging its supporters across Leeds and Yorkshire to sign a letter calling on the Government to set out a clear timetable for the re-introduction of ‘meaningful visits’ from loved ones for people living in care homes, where at least 70 per cent of residents have dementia.

In Leeds there are an estimated 9,210 people living with dementia.

The campaign, ‘Wait until May? No Way!’, highlights the importance of such visits which, it says, are vital to the health and wellbeing of people living with dementia.

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Brian Sugden of Crossgates says forced separation of him and his wife would have killed him.

It comes as, at the height of last year’s lockdown, there was an additional unexplained rise in dementia deaths beyond those who died from the virus.

In addition, an Alzheimer’s Society survey of almost 2,000 people affected by dementia, shows that since being forced to stay isolated and inside their homes, more than four in five (82 per cent) reported a deterioration in people with dementia’s symptoms. A third said they felt like ‘giving up’.

Natasha Mort, Alzheimer’s Society’s Area Manager in West Yorkshire, said: “Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that Covid-19 death rates are now at their highest levels in care homes, and many residents have not seen their loved ones for almost a year. When visits have happened, they all too often fail to meet the needs of people with dementia.

“While progress on vaccinating care home residents is welcome, we are concerned that low vaccination rates for care home staff will further delay the re-introduction of meaningful visits for residents and their loved ones.

The Alzheimer's Society is calling on changes to care home visits.

“This lack of contact from their loved ones means people with dementia are deteriorating at a much faster rate than they would otherwise. They are not just dying due to Covid-19. They are also dying from loneliness."

Brian Sugden's wife, Audrey, died in January 2020. She had dementia and was in a care home.

The 78-year-old from Crossgates said he was not surprised that death rates among dementia sufferers has risen as he knows the effect not being able to see Audrey would have had on both of them.

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He said: "It does not surprise me (deaths increase). The familiarity has gone, people can't understand why they can't go out. Apart from visitors there used to be entertainment in there, nothing like that can happen, and it used to break up the day.

"I was spared the agony of not being able to be with her. It would have killed me, we were joined at the hip Audrey and I. Even the people at the home said when we were together you could see the love. I don't think she realised we were husband and wife but she recognised me as somebody important to her and that was a comfort to me.

I used to see her every day, I missed one day because I had a cold and the staff said she had been looking for me all day. The situation now, people can't go at all - it must be terrible.

The letter can be accessed through the charity’s website demands the Government prioritises care home visits as part of its upcoming roadmap to ease lockdown, expected to be revealed later this month.

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