SOCIETIES have a responsibility for the ‘’young’’ — we make an attempt to make all open areas ‘safe’ and ‘suitable’ for young children.

We appoint a lollypop person for road crossing in front of schools, we keep our nurseries and play areas ‘safe’ for children. And if there is any mishap, there are headlines in the local newspaper.

What about the frail and old? What about those ‘grown ups’ with mental ages of three or four. What does the society do for them? Are our shops, supermarkets, bus stations, railway stations quite ‘safe’ for them? What about our hospitals and health care facilities?

It is very appropriate that the Bolton News ( along with a few other charities) is running a campaign to improve facilities for them and to raise an overall awareness about dementia.

Many patients with dementing disorders come in to our hospitals and often leave totally unnoticed about their mental conditions. Why?

On one hand all the experts and community leaders are calling for early detection of dementia, yet, often, right in front of their eyes, dementia goes unnoticed, unassessed and uncared. A golden opportunity lost.

It is important that today with nearly 50 per cent of our adult general hospital wards/areas are used by older people — many with early undetected and undiagnosed dementia — no regular assessment system is in place.

Lack of understanding, training and facilities are the usual reasons. Furthermore there always is an attitudinal problem. It is well known that mental illness is not given the same status as other areas within the health service. And within that dementia fares worst. After all it is a disorder of old people, they are not important therefore the ailment affecting them should also be brushed aside.

Various mental changes can indeed occur in other acute illnesses but these should be followed up carefully that no case of dementia goes undetected. Acute confusion and dementia can coexist and must be thoroughly assessed and correctly diagnosed.

As mentioned earlier, it is heartening to know that currently a charity, well supported by this newspaper, is raising funds and the profile of dementia within our acute hospital areas. An excellent group working hard to raise awareness of all staff and visitors on the special needs for individuals with mental infirmity. That dementia is an illness warranting full care and attention and the affected subjects be handled with utmost respect and courtesy. I wish them well.

The country will save a lot of money and the society can save a lot of suffering if all such unfortunate people were diagnosed early and followed up under a properly set up care plan.

Is it too much to ask?

Arup Banerjee