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Senile Dementia

Volume 113: debated on Friday 3 April 1987

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is his estimate of the number of people suffering from progressive senile dementia.

Various estimates, including those of the Health Advisory Service in its 1982 report "The Rising Tide", and those of the Royal College of Physicians in its 1981 report on "Organic Mental Impairment in the Elderly", put the prevalence of dementia in the elderly at between 5 per cent. and 10 per cent. in those over the age of 65, and around 20 per cent. in those over the age of 80. However, such estimates must be treated with caution, since functional psychiatric illness and confusional states in the elderly can be confused with dementia. Long-term studies are needed to provide more accurate estimates of incidence, and one such study is currently under consideration by the Medical Research Council.