Should older people suffering from dementia go to prison?

Former French president  Jacques Chirac, 78 years old, was diagnosed with the symptoms of dementia last  month, two days before the trial for the “bogus jobs” affair opened, a trial in  which Chirac is one of the defendants [1]. Just a few days ago in Cambodia, Ieng  Thirith, the only woman to be tried for the crimes against humanity committed in  Cambodia, aged 79, was also said to be suffering from health issues including  Alzheimer’s which, according to her defence team, make her unfit to stand trial  [2].

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UN High-Level meeting on non communicable diseases

On 19-20 September 2011 the United Nation held a High-Level Meeting on Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs). This meeting witnessed the recognition of neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, previously excluded from the focus of the High-Level Meeting, as contributing to the non-communicable disease burden worldwide along with cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes. In fact, as stated in the political declaration of the High-Level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases, they “recognise that mental and neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, are an important cause of morbidity and contribute to the global non-communicable disease burden, for which there is a need to provide equitable access to effective programmes and health-care interventions” [1].

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The future economic, health and social care costs of dementia

Yesterday, Care Services Minister Paul Burstow launched a ‘Route Map for Dementia Research’ promising more money and capacity to the dementia research agenda [1]. The ‘Route Map’ includes a pledge of up to £20 million from the Department of Health over five years to fund four new National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Units, and commits the Medical Research Council (MRC) to increase funding for neurodegeneration research by ten percent to £150 million over the next four years to 2015.

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Dementia and the challenge of personalisation

Since the 1990’s many advanced welfare states have moved away from the delivery of home care services and towards alternative ‘cash-for-care’ schemes. This move towards self-directed care has formed the heart of the Government’s personalisation agenda and has become emblematic of Labour’s restructuring of the relationship between the citizen and the state in respect of welfare services and support. More recently the Government has also contemplated the potential of personal health budgets, which would permit individuals to buy their own health care.

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