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Too clever by half

I go through the papers – well The Guardian and Manchester Evening news - day by day, and look for a summary of items of most interest to those of us involved with older people and dementia. This past week there has been news which would wish to excite us and news to accentuate the aches we know we have in body and soul.

A breakthrough? Lecanemab is trumpeted as a breakthrough in the search for a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease: ‘This looks like the real deal’: are we inching closer to a treatment for Alzheimer’s? | Health | The Guardian

But the story has been around for some time. The model depends on belief in the Amyloid Hypothesis. The treatment is complicated – requiring monthly infusions, expensive – not only the cost of the medication itself, but also the equipment to undertake the investigations which are necessary. Side effects have been identified in trials and the benefits are disputed. I thought it had been decided to stop fruitless investment in this approach, to look for alternative models to research and to spend resources on proven methods of care.

Heartbreak: The Leonard Cheshire organisation requires more money to care for its residents with multiple and severe disabilities. Councils cannot afford to pay more because their funding has been brutally reduced. Some residents have to find new homes: Disabled care home residents evicted in charity’s dispute with councils | Social care | The Guardian. The most vulnerable are being crushed between a rock and a hard place – neither the rock nor the hard place being by nature uncaring, but rendered unable to be otherwise because of decisions on funding which stem from government, now exacerbated by the world financial crisis.

Heartfelt: The advance of technology and the way that it is introduced into everyday communications is leaving some older people, and others, out of touch and unable to pursue the necessities of everyday life: ‘It’s discrimination’: millions of Britons frozen out in the digital age | Consumer affairs | The Guardian

We have seen the development of ‘Dementia Friendly’ in many aspects of life. But there seems to have been quiet on this front as we have struggled and been overcome by the covid crisis and the lockdowns – destructive to individuals and to care initiatives. But this is something I think we should be causing a stir about. Choice for many people is being swept aside in the name of advances which are comfortable for most able young people, but are really not easy or possible for older, especially disabled, people. It is not a new phenomenon and challenge and has been identified by others:

Many of their responses amount to helping us learn how to use new devices – It is almost unbelievable, but true, that many of the most expensive and complicated devices come with no printed instructions – these may be available at considerable additional cost. Print is often so small that it cannot be read without the aid of a magnifying glass.

We have to be thankful for schemes which will enable us. But more important, in my view, is a need to establish that no interactions should offer only hi-tec/digital modes of communication. Shopping can be a pleasurable exercise if it is composed of a personal experience between shopper and vendor. It is without heart, if it is conducted only by means of a card and a machine – which will reject you if you do something wrong, but will find it difficult to rescue you without humiliation and frustration. I am not just a number – and we do not want to go along with moves which would see us in these terms.

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