The society says that people with dementia typically spend £100,000 on care over their lifetime – a shocking statistic that the vast majority (85%) of people surveyed in the South-East were unaware of.
When asked what they thought dementia care costs, half of respondents (50%) said they had no idea at all.
The research also highlighted that 43% of the public didn’t know that dementia care isn’t provided for free by the NHS.
The society adds that while there are no drugs to cure or slow down the disease, people with dementia rely on social care for support every day, and decades of chronic under-funding mean families are often forced to foot the bill for spiralling care costs themselves.
Someone in the UK develops dementia every three minutes.
Dementia, which slowly strips people of their memories and identities, costs the UK £26.3billion a year, which is largely shouldered by the families affected.
Sue Rennie, Alzheimer’s Society Operations Manager for Surrey, said: “A million people in the UK will have dementia by 2021. With the current care system leaving families in financial ruin and the general public largely oblivious, we are sleepwalking into a crisis.
“Recent funding announcements will only prevent the immediate total collapse of support, and only for those who do get some state help. The Government must recognise the true cost and guarantee everyone with dementia access to the care they want, need and deserve.”
The charity is urging the Chancellor to ring-fence £2.5billion in the Autumn Budget for social care, in order to plug the current funding gap.
In the longer term, it is campaigning for the Government to create a joined-up system, including an NHS Dementia Fund to help cover care costs and end the inequity with other diseases.
To join the campaign, go to alzheimers.org.uk/fixdementiacare.