They say it is time to end the “fundamental injustice” of sufferers facing bills of hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Cancer victims receive free care because it is recognised in some cases as a terminal illness.
But despite being incurable, dementia is seen as a social care need and families are often forced to sell their homes and use their life savings to cover sky-high costs.
Alzheimer’s Society is urging ministers at the Conservative Party conference to set up an NHS Dementia Fund to protect people from “catastrophic care costs”.
Sufferers of the brain-wasting condition typically spend £100,000 on their care, but the charity says some have paid up to £500,000.
The society’s chief executive, Jeremy Hughes, said: “People with dementia are at the mercy of a broken system, paying up to 40 per cent more for their care.
The financial and emotional toll this takes on some of the most vulnerable people in society is fundamentally unfair.”
The charity blamed “cuts made left, right and centre by successive governments” for a social care system in crisis and families facing financial ruin.
Mr Hughes added: “Quality dementia care requires time and training and can’t be done on the cheap. These additional costs should be covered by the state, instead of forcing families to sell their homes and spend life savings just to get the care they need.”
The charity says some care costs should be paid for by sufferers or their families.
But extra charges should be monitored and covered by the state from a special fund.
There are 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, 500,000 of whom have Alzheimer’s.
The call to overhaul the current system comes days after the Daily Express revealed that despite dementia being the UK’s biggest killer, just £83.1million is committed each year to finding a cure.
Cancer scientists receive £269million from the Government and publicfunded research bodies, according to the latest figures.
The Department of Health and Social Care is expected to publish a paper later this year containing proposals on limits to the costs individuals face.
It says it does realise that the way the current charging system operates is far from fair.
A spokesman said: “We are committed to making this the best country in the world for dementia care, support research and awareness.
Our green paper, due later in the year, will set out our plans to reform the social care system to make it sustainable for the future.
LEN Winch and his wife Mary worked hard, never relied on the state and always put money away.
However, today their life savings are being eaten up by the cost of their care.
They both have Alzheimer’s and live in Wickmeads care home, in Bournemouth, where they each pay £1,035 a week. Len, 93, began suffering with dementia a decade ago and was initially cared for by his wife. But being a full-time carer took its toll on Mary, 91, who suffered two heart attacks.
After falling and breaking her hip last year, daughter Joan Watson knew the time had come for them to go into a home.
She sold their bungalow for £260,000, and with savings of £100,000 her parents had a £360,000 pot. However, 18 months on from moving into the home £120,000 has already been swallowed up.
Joan, 69, said: “I am shocked at the amount of money it costs. There should be a cap on what is paid. What do we do when the money runs out?”
COMMENT – SALLY COPLEY Alzheimer’s Society
AROUND 850,000 Britons are living with dementia and every single one has the right to good quality care and support.
But all too often that right is denied and they have to sell their family home or spend their life savings to get it.
This is a fundamental injustice. Our research revealed that people with dementia pay up to 40 per cent more for their care than everyone else. Why should you spend hundreds of thousands of pounds because you were unfortunate enough to develop dementia instead of any other terminal illness?
Most people using home care and living in care homes have dementia, so the social care crisis is really a dementia crisis.
While our ageing population grows and demand for social care rises, successive governments have been making cuts left, right and centre, leaving dementia patients to pick up the bill.
These cuts are a false economy, piling pressure on our already over-stretched NHS, as people with dementia put off asking for help until crisis point, because they know the cost it carries. People with dementia deserve better and they have already waited too long.
A million people in the UK will have dementia by 2021. We’re calling on MPs to end the inequity. After decades of governments shirking the issue, now is the time to tackle this urgent yet hidden crisis.
Published at Sun, 30 Sep 2018 22:58:00 +0000