Printer-friendly versionSend by email

Dementia and its implications for individuals and carers living in Wolverhampton.

The aim of this article is to provide a basic outline of the disorder call “Dementia”. It starts by highlighting the number of people who are likely to be affected by this disease, the definition of what actually dementia is, the ways in which it affects the individual and the family and how to access Wolverhampton’s statutory and voluntary services. 

The population of Wolverhampton has been on a steady decline, losing around 15% of residents from 1971 to 2001. The resident population at the 2001 Census was 236,582. Until the next Census in 2011, the most reliable source of information about population changes are the Mid-Year Estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS); these calculate approximately how the population is likely to have changed taking into account births, deaths and migration data.

Wolverhampton’s population increased slightly in 2008 (236,400) after a decline between 2005 and 2007.This is in line with national trends, where the population of the UK has seen its biggest growth in the last 50 years according to the latest mid-year estimates.(Window on Wolverhampton 2009)

Wolverhampton’s age profile broadly mirrors the age structure of the UK. The older population (those of pensionable age) continues to increase with a rise of 200 people in 2008. 2.2% of the population is aged 85 years or over with numbers increasing year on year. Over 1 in 10 older people are female (12.1%) compared with 7.4% who are male. This reflects the nationwide picture of higher life expectancy for women.

The estimated number of people living with dementia in Wolverhampton was 2,940 people (POPPI 2010), which is approximately 7.3% of Wolverhampton’s older person population. The number of people with dementia is expected to increase by approximately 44%, over the next 20 years to 4,430 people. This represents an increase of approximately 75 people per year. The number of people over 85+ is projected to increase by over 85% over the next twenty years (POPPI 2010). This is significant because the prevalence of dementia increases with age and the older age group are more likely to have other illnesses and require more complex care.

Around 25% of older people are living in lone households (POPPI 2010). It is difficult to predict how this will change over the next 20 years, but it is suggested this will increase to 26%, 13515 people, (POPPI 2010). There is considerable under diagnosis of dementia. About 40% of the people with dementia in Wolverhampton are on a GP dementia register.

The number of older people from BME communities is projected to increase. It is estimated that BME groups will comprise 1/3 of the Wolverhampton population by 2026 (Joint Strategic Needs Assessment 2008),with the biggest increase in people from mixed ethnic background. 7% of the older population are Asian elders (POPPI 2010). It is predicted that the number of people diagnosed with an early onset dementia is underestimated by three times (Dementia UK 2007)

Over 6,000 of those people who identified themselves as carers said that they were providing 50 or more hours each week National Policy Guidance, The National Dementia Strategy (NDS), Living Well with Dementia, launched in 2009, sets out a five year plan to achieve its vision of enabling people to live well with dementia which has seventeen objectives.


How many people have a diagnosis of dementia in the U.K?

There are about 820,000 people in the UK with dementia (Alzheimer's Research Trust 2010). Some will be people living with an undiagnosed dementia.

  • Dementia has no gender barriers and affects both men and women.
  • Dementia mainly affects older people. The longer a person lives the higher the risk of developing a type of dementia.
  • There are 15,000 people in the UK under the age of 65 who have dementia. The fact that dementia can affect younger people is something that can be over looked by families, the person themselves; even professionals can be slow to consider dementia as a possibility with younger people.

    What is dementia?

    Dementia is a term that is used to describe a collection of symptoms including memory loss, problems with reasoning and communication skills, and a reduction in a person's abilities and skills in carrying out daily activities such as washing, dressing, cooking and caring for self.

    Memory loss - this can be one of the first symptoms that people notice. The observations people report include - noticing their loved ones forgetting things that have happened earlier in the day, getting confused about messages and who people are, getting lost whilst out and about, repeating themselves, and appearing not to be paying attention or following conversations

    Dementia is a progressive condition, which means the symptoms will gradually get worse. This progression will vary from person to person and each person will experience dementia in a different way. Although the person will have some of the above symptoms, the degree to which they affect an individual will vary and not all people will have all of these symptoms.

    In the severe case, the person is bedridden, totally confused, not recognising family members, and is fully dependent on support for the most basic of needs. The person with severe dementia will need to be fed, washed and dressed. Many actually lose weight and if left on the bed for some time can develop pressure sores.  

    How should we get an assessment / find out if this is dementia?

    If you suspect you or a person you know may have a type of dementia it is essential you get a diagnosis as soon as possible. There are many conditions or situations that can cause confusion and symptoms similar to dementia. The person who is experiencing the problems must see their GP as soon as possible.

    The GP will be able to refer you to a specialist for an assessment.

    The following conditions can cause similar symptoms to those of dementia but may be reversible and should always be explored.

  • Chest and urinary infections
  • Infected pressure sores
  • Severe constipation
  • Depression
  • Side effects from medication
  • Taking medications incorrectly or taking medication that has not been prescribed
  • Vitamin and thyroid deficiencies
  • Brain tumours and normal pressure hydrocephalus
  • Syphilis
  • Sudden changes such as moving house or bereavement
  • Poor sight or hearing
  • Alcohol (even in small amounts)
  • A full physical examination should take place as part of the assessment. This may include an assessment of heart and lung functioning and will include blood pressure, full blood count, vitamin B12 and foliate testing, glucose testing, thyroid testing and a mid-stream urine assessment.

    So far there is no medical test for dementia. A diagnosis is made by excluding other conditions. It is therefore essential that the person's carers, friends and relatives be invited to give a history of the problems.

    The assessment process will vary depending on the services that are available in your area. You may have a memory service in your area and your GP may refer you for further assessment and diagnosis.

    Other areas do not have a dedicated memory service and the GP will refer to your local mental health service and someone from the mental health team will contact you to arrange an assessment.

    Some GPs refer to neurologists, who are specialists in disorders of the brain, for assessment. These professionals will often conduct a home visit to assess the person in their own home.

    The actual assessment will include the above-mentioned tests and whoever is making the diagnosis will take a detailed history. An assessment of a person's behaviours or abilities might be made and referral to a day hospital or to an occupational therapist might be suggested.

    There are a number of scans which can be conducted which helps with a possible diagnosis.

    Talking to people

    Talking to people and accepting that you or a loved one has a diagnosis of dementia can be very difficult. Many carers are reluctant to tell/ discuss the diagnosis with the person with dementia themselves. The person with dementia might well know that something is wrong and may be worried about the changes they are noticing in themselves.

    It is important that once a diagnosis is reached the person has the opportunity to discuss this diagnosis, what it means, what the future might hold and the types of support they might need. The person with the dementia should be informed of this diagnosis, ideally when a family member or close friend is present, by the professional who has completed the assessment, or the professional who knows the person best.

    People should be allowed time to process what this diagnosis means and be encouraged and allowed to ask questions about what it means. It is a good idea to tell close family and friends about this diagnosis; however you might want to consider who else to tell.

    Some people (especially when the person with dementia lives alone) inform a close neighbour so that they are aware and can provide some support for the person with dementia.

    Talking to young children can be difficult. Children however, are normally very aware that something is wrong and are normally easily able to accept the diagnosis for what it is and not let it affect their relationship with the person with dementia.

    Families of younger people with dementia will face different challenges and may want to get professional help/ support and advice about dealing with the dementia and coping with this diagnosis - help lines such as Admiral Nursing DIRECT will also be able to provide support and advice. Admiral Nursing DIRECT 0845 257 9406


    A number of medications are available which can help to slow down the deterioration.

    The use of these medications was recently restricted to people whose dementia is in the mid-stages. This is something that you should discuss with the person making the diagnosis.

    Support for family carers

  • Admiral Nursing DIRECT is a national helpline provided by experienced Admiral Nurses, specialist dementia nurses, and supported by the charity Dementia UK. It offers practical advice and emotional support to family carers, people with dementia and health and social care professionals. Contact details: 0845 257 9406 and email
  • Carers Groups - are a great way of meeting other carers and sharing experiences. Carers Groups also enable you to meet "others in the same boat".
  • Social Services - can do a range of things, putting in services, arranging for carers to come into the person with dementia's home to assist with day to day tasks, advising on benefits and helping make claims.
  • Age UK - will be able to help with things such as benefits / attendance allowance claims, managing budgets and money issues, plus much more.
  • Factsheets and Books - a huge amount has been written about dementia and it is natural that you will want to read up about this new diagnosis.
  • A word of caution however, do not read everything and start to worry about how you are going to cope with things that the books say might happen, you need to deal with things as they happen, spend time focusing on what you are dealing with now, read about that and ways to cope with that and worry about tomorrow.

    Most of the information has been taken from Dementia UK, a national charity working to improve quality of life for people affected by dementia. 6 Camden High Street London NW1 0JH

    Tel: 020 7874 7200 Fax: 020 7874 7219 E-mail:

    Registered charity no: 1039404


    Local Information Community Teams for Older Adults

    Who is our service for?

    We have six community teams for older adults. There are three in Sandwell covering Rowley Regis and Tipton, Smethwick and Oldbury, and Wednesbury and West Bromwich. The three Wolverhampton teams cover the North, South East and South West of the city.

    The teams give community support to people over 65 years of age who have many kinds of mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, hearing voices, and dementia. We can also give support to people under 65 who have identified memory problems.

    How do we help? 

    When we feel that someone would benefit from our service, we meet with them to find out what their mental health needs are. Based on this meeting we make a treatment plan, which outlines for someone the kinds of support they can get. The treatment plan can be changed to fit as time goes on. 

    Our aim is to give people the support to live well in the community. This can involve many things. We can help people with their medication and give advice on how someone can manage their own mental health needs. We can support someone to carry on with parts of their daily living like self-care, home tasks, and leisure activities. We also run a range of group sessions at venues in the community, and give one-on-one talking therapy sessions for such things as anxiety management and relaxation.

    Working in our teams we have community psychiatric nurses, occupational therapists, occupational therapy technical instructors, and community health care support workers. We also work closely with psychiatrists and psychologists. Having this range of staff means we are more able to meet someone’s needs.

    We normally spend time with people in their own homes for one-on-one sessions, and at various places in the community for group work.

    How do you access or refer into our service?

    We have what we call an ‘open referral system’. This means that we accept both someone referring themselves and health professionals referring someone else.

    What happens in an emergency?

    We will respond to emergency calls during our working hours. These are Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm. Outside of these hours; people should call an out-of-hour service like that run by GPs. 

    What about carers and families?

    Part of our role is to support carers. Where there is an acute mental health issue, we offer carer support as part of the treatment plan. Where someone’s mental health is stable and the carer is in need of continued support, we can help the carer get in touch with the specialist carer support team for older adults.

    How do you reach us?

    Sandwell Older Adults Community Mental Health Teams

    Each of our three community teams for older adults is open Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm.  

    Wednesbury and West Bromwich Community Team for Older Adults 2nd  Floor Edward Street Hospital Edward Street West Bromwich B70 8NL

    Tel: 0121-612-8213

    Smethwick and Oldbury Community Team for Older Adults Edward Street Community Team Base Edward Street West Bromwich B70 8NJ

    Tel: 0121-612-8836

    Rowley Regis and Tipton Community Team for Older Adults Edward Street Community Team Base Edward Street West Bromwich B70 8NJ

    Tel: 0121-612-8836

    Wolverhampton Older Adults Community Mental Health Team The teams are available Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. Brooklands Health Centre Brooklands Parade, Wolverhampton, WV1 2 ND



    Wolverhampton Memory Assessment Service

    Who is our service for?

    Older people with specific memory problems.

    How do we help?

    Our memory clinic is a specialist clinic at Penn Hospital in Wolverhampton.  We offer assessment and possible treatment for people who experience a certain type of memory problem. 

    The memory clinic is run by nursing staff, consultants in old age psychiatry and the psychology team.  It is designed as a “one stop” assessment and treatment centre.

    The main purpose of the memory clinic is to assess people’s memory and general functioning.  This is in order to offer any information or support and to decide whether there are any treatments that might help. 

    We also provide additional information or advice you may need about memory problems and also inform you about other services or support that may be helpful to your situation.

    Who can refer into our service?

    Access to the Memory Clinic is through your GP.

    What about carers and families?

    Part of our role is to support carers. We offer carer support as part of the treatment plan. We can help the carer get in touch with the specialist carer support team for older adults

    How do you reach us?

    Clinics are held at:

    Brooklands Health Centre Brooklands Parade, WOLVERHAMPTON, WV1 2 ND

    Tel: 01902 445794

    The clinic operates on Tuesdays, 9am – 5pm (Closed on weekends and bank holidays)

    Alzheimer’s Research UK The Stables Station Road Great Shelford Cambridge CB22 5LR

    Switchboard: 01223 843899; Press office: 01223 843304; Fax: 01223 843325

    Age UK Wolverhampton


    Hupton House

    93-94 Darlington Street


    WV1 4EX

    Contact details

    Telephone: 01902 572060

    Email address:

    Opening times

    Mon-Fri 9am-4.30pm

    We can offer services to people in the following areas

    Bilston, Wednesfield, Willenhall, Wolverhamton, WV1, WV2, WV3, WV4

    If we do not cover the area where you live, click here to see other Age UKs and Age Concerns in your area


    Offers face to face information on a range of insurance and other products and services designed especially for the over 50s. Car Insurance, Energy Services, Funeral Plans, Home Insurance, Legal Services, Lottery, Personal Alarms, Travel Insurance

  • Elder Asians - email Asian service for elderly Asian people. 0902 448552
  • Moreland Trust (for mainly African Caribbean people) 01902 421155   
  • Woden Resource Centre – provides advice and information sessions, social activities, respite care, rehabilitation, and a day centre. It is available for adults over the age of 65 in the North of Wolverhampton. Address: Vicarage Road, Wednesfield, Wolverhampton, WV11 1SF. Telephone: 01902 553494.
  • Bradley Resource Centre - gives older people in the South-East of Wolverhampton opportunities for learning, healthy living, and social inclusion. Facilities include a day centre, drop-in café, rehabilitation, social activities, respite care, and advice and information sessions. Address: Lord Street, Bilston, Wolverhampton, WV14 8SD. Telephone: 01902 553543.
  • Warstones Resource Centre - is a Respite Care unit for older people with dementia care needs. It provides rehabilitation, day services, a drop-in café, carer support, and an information service for the South-West area of Wolverhampton. The centre is currently undergoing organisational changes. Address: Warstones Drive, Penn, Wolverhampton, WV4 4PG. Telephone: 01902 553419.
  • Blakenhall Community Resource Centre – caters for older adults with mental health needs. It provides opportunities for lifelong learning, healthier living, and social inclusion. Facilities include day centre, respite care, long stay and residential care, dementia care mapping, and social activities. Address: Haggar Street, Blakenhall, Wolverhampton, WV2 3ET. Telephone: 01902 553547.