Windows of opportunity: prevention and early intervention in dementia
Early intervention is often seen as anticipatory information and support delivered at the earliest stage of dementia, following diagnosis. However, it is important to ensure that any help or support offered at any stage in a person’s journey with dementia is offered in a timely way. Early intervention is always important. Not everyone seeks help in the earliest stages. Many people do not begin to look for help until dementia is well established and the symptoms are significant. It is vital that local services are able to offer swift support no matter when a person or their carers request it.
Prevention encompasses the range of interventions that prevent an escalation in need that may tip an individual into a higher or more intensive level of service.
The journey through dementia is not a simple, linear progression. There are stages or zones within the journey that each present their own opportunities for timely intervention. The nature of the interventions in each stage will be different. There are also transition points along the way where an individual may need to make decisions about the direction in which they wish to go. The transition points also present an opportunity to health and social care communities to offer interventions that may prevent or delay a person’s journey from moving into a more dependent or critical zone.
National Dementia Strategy Objective 6: Improved community personal support services
- Provision of an appropriate range of services to support people with dementia living at home and their carers.
- Access to flexible and reliable services, ranging from early intervention to specialist home care services, which are responsive to the personal needs and preferences of each individual and take account of their broader family circumstances.
- Accessible to people living alone or with carers, people who pay for their care privately, through personal budgets, or through local authority arranged services.