People with dementia face unique challenges when they need cancer treatment. In a new study by Dr Claire Surr, researchers explored the difficulties faced by people with dementia, their carers and healthcare professionals. They interviewed and spent time with these groups and came up with practical measures which could help.
Dementia causes problems with memory, communication and decision-making. Many people with dementia found hospital visits confusing and frightening; they had difficulty retaining information and in understanding what was happening. Staff working in cancer services (oncology) said they lacked training on dementia, and that dementia was often not flagged in medical records. People with dementia who had supportive family carers were more likely to receive appropriate cancer care and treatment. But it placed a burden on carers.
The researchers suggest several strategies which could make cancer care more accessible and individualised for people with dementia. Involving carers more would help, along with longer appointments and simpler written explanations, with pictures, for people to take home. Staff working in cancer services could benefit from training on dementia. And it needs to be easier for people to travel to hospitals, and to find their way around them.
Read the full report on the NIHR Evidence Website – https://evidence.nihr.ac.uk/alert/cancer-and-dementia-practical-changes-needed/