Alzheimers, drugs, and a song of hope…

Sometimes I weep at what we are, and what we become.

The very heart of who we are, and the meaning we bring to our time spent in this fragile human tent- nothing brings this home more to us than becoming old. Facing the certainty of death.

We live in an aging population. I spend a lot of my time now chairing conferences where consideration is being given to the use of the Scottish Adults With Incapacity Act to enable the on going care of people who no longer have the capacity to make decisions for themselves. Most of these conferences relate to people who are older, and have a diagnosis of some form of dementia.

A news article last week brought me up sharp.It concerned a report

The medical care that we provide our oldest and most vulnerable people with at the end of their lives is killing around 1800 people a year.

Psychiatric drug prescribed to moderate behaviour and agitation kills people.

Only around 36,000 of the 180,000 people currently on the drugs in the UK are getting any benefit from them, the report said, leaving 144,000 people taking them unnecessarily.

This story was slipped into the pool of news with barely a ripple. No outcry. No calls for investigation.  No heads on the chopping block. Just move on to another story… more celebrity drivel, or a bit of political scandal about a moat and a dodgy expenses claim.

How we look after our older people with dignity and compassion is one of the greatest challenges facing our generation in this country. Numbers of people  experiencing dementia are set to double in the next 20 years. The percentage of the population of some towns (particularly seaside towns like mine) who have this difficulty will be very difficult for services to provide adequate care for.

At the same time, most health and social care budgets are already overspent, and likely to experience cuts in real terms.

I watched this film today, hence the reference to tears at the beginning of this post.

It is a beautiful film, full of tender care, hope and yearning, along with such sadness and loss.

And running through the middle of it all is music- the art that gives our lives meaning, even when almost all other things have been stripped away…


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