FULL marks to the district's health bosses for taking a positive step forward in tackling the issues surrounding dementia.
Patients admitted to the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Partnership NHS Trust's five community hospitals – which include Leek and Cheadle – are to be screened for signs of this horrible affliction which cruelly affects the state of mind of so many elderly people.
Nursing staff at the hospitals have received advanced training to enable them to focus more clearly on the needs of patients with dementia and Alzeimer's disease, as well providing helpful support for their families and carers.
The move coincides with the Government's promise to double annual funding for dementia research to £132 million over the next decade.
Dementia is seen as a national crisis in the UK today with around 800,000 people living with the condition. Surrounding them are family and friends also profoundly affected.
For years dementia has been ignored as part of the ageing process, but it can strike cruelly on people before their pensionable age.
The condition costs the health service around £19 billion each year in England alone, more than that of cancer, heart disease or stroke according to Prime Minister David Cameron, who has become a champion of the mind-crippling condition.
Mr Cameron recently announced the Government is to spend £50 million on making hospitals and care homes "more dementia friendly" places.
The PM is one of 40,000 people who have signed up for Dementia Friends – an organisation which promotes greater awareness of the disease and the need for more compassion and understanding to be shown to sufferers.
Mr Cameron would like to see a million Dementia Friends signed up by 2015.
Health ministers from the G8 nations predict cases of dementia worldwide will rise to 135 million by 2050.
Mr Cameron wants researchers into dementia around the world pool their findings in major international effort to eradicate the disease.
With Britain's ageing population predicted to rise quite sharply in the coming years, there will likewise be a growth in dementia sufferers – unless there is a dramatic breakthrough in medical research to put a halt to this dreadful condition.
According to recent statistics, the number of people over 60 in this country could rise by 40 per cent in the next 30 years, so urgent action is needed to prepare for what lies ahead.
Staffordshire County Council has already taken some steps by launching ambitious plans to improve care for dementia sufferers right here on our doorstep.
The authority is looking to invest £100 million, with support from the private sector, in seven 'centres of excellence' around the county - including one in Leek.
The chosen local site is the former local authority-run Kniveden Hall old folks home.
The purpose of the centres is to provide 'through-life care' for patients, thus reducing the need for people to be transferred from residential care to specialist units, as their health declines. Of course, we can do much to help ourselves to avoid the need for such care in our later lives, by pursuing a healthy lifestyle. According to health experts we can do this by eating the right foods, exercising, staying mentally and socially active and keeping stress in check. Alzeimer's disease accounts for around 50 per cent of dementia cases, while vascular dementia accounts for up to 40 per cent in older adults.
Make staying fit and healthy your number one New Year's resolution, if you care for your state of mind.