International Report Paints Global Picture of Dementia

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • It turns out that it’s going to take a whole world to take care of people who have Alzheimer’s. And governments around the world need to take notice!

    That’s one of the key messages in a new report, “World Alzheimer Report 2013: Journey of Caring” by Alzheimer’s Disease International, a group of 79 Alzheimer’s associations, and Bupa, the largest international provider of dementia care. The report looks at the latest global and regional trends of older people who need dementia care and offers an analysis of long-term care systems globally. For instance, more than 35 million people around the world currently have some form of dementia. This number is expected to double by 2030 and then triple to 115 million by 2050.

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    There are some interesting points made in this report. For instance, the researchers define “dependence” as “the need for frequently human help or care beyond that habitually required by a healthy adult” and this care is “beyond what would be expected by virtue of family or social ties.” Based on this definition, approximately one in 20 people around the world is dependent. Of these people, 1 percent is comprised of children between the ages of zero and 14 years of age while 13 percent are among people who are 60 years of age or above.


    This change in dependence is based on aging. In fact, the number of older people who will need care is anticipated to triple to 277 million by 2050.

    “Increases in numbers of dependent older people will be particularly dramatic in low and middle income countries,” the report states. Long-term care for the older population tends to be primarily for people who have dementia. Approximately 50 percent of all people who have dementia need some level of personal care; furthermore, the remainder will eventually need this type of help over time.  The report appoints out that around 50 percent of all people who need personal care have dementia and 80 percent of older people who are in nursing homes have been diagnosed with dementia.

    Because of these findings and the tremendous growth of people who are diagnosed with dementia anticipated in the coming years, the report’s authors encourage policymakers to “pay much more attention to the importance of dementia as the most common underlying condition, and, very often, the root cause of older people’s needs for care.” They point out that the costs of long-term care – both currently and in the future – will largely be driven by the course of the global dementia epidemic.  Obviously, the best way to deal with this issue is to find a way to prevent dementia. However, until that is the case, the report’s authors call for governments across the world to make policies and plans for providing and financing long-term care.

    The report has several recommendations, which include:

    • Dementia should be a priority for governments, who should develop and implement a national plan. In addition, governments should encourage urgent national debates on long-term care options for the future.
    • Systems need to be established so that the quality of dementia care can be monitored, whether it’s in care homes or in the community.
    • The voices of people with dementia and their caregivers should be prioritized, thus encouraging them to have autonomy and choice during all stages of dementia.
    • The health care system should be integrated and coordinated with the social care system in order to provide for the needs of people who have dementia.
    • Caregivers who are on the front line of dementia care must be adequately trained. Furthermore, systems need to be put in place so that paid and unpaid caregivers can receive appropriate financial support so that the informal care system is sustained and the recruitment and retention of paid caregivers is improved.
    • Care that is provided in care homes is preferred by a significant minority. If the unpaid work of family caregivers is properly valued, this type of care can provide quality of life with comparable costs.
    • The quality of care provided in care homes needs to be monitored based on the quality of life and satisfaction of residents as well as routine inspections.

    Primary Source for This Sharepost:

  • Alzheimer’s Disease International. (2013). World Alzheimer report 2013: journey of caring.

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Published On: September 20, 2013