World lags on dementia plans

The number of people living with dementia is estimated to hit 140 million in 2050…

The number of people living with dementia is estimated to hit 140 million in 2050 as the world lags on implementing national dementia plans, a report from Alzheimer’s Disease International has found.

Paola Barbarino

ADI unveiled the fifth edition of its From Plan to Impact report at the World Health Assembly (WHO) in Geneva on Wednesday.

The annual survey monitors the progress of the WHO’s eight-year global action plan on dementia adopted in May 2017, in which member states pledged to create a dementia plan by 2025.

The survey found that out of the 194 WHO member states, only 39, including Australia, have followed through with the commitment.

The report puts Australia at stage 3B of the plan stage on a scale of 1-5, and rates its status “in development, good progress”.

Looming global crisis

ADI Chief Executive Officer Paola Barbarino says having in place a national dementia plan is the best way governments can prepare for what she says is a looming global health crisis.

“Time is running out to implement national dementia plans that will help us all cope with the oncoming wave of dementia cases,” she said.

“Continued inaction now will lead to much greater health, care and societal challenges in managing dementia later. Governments must have robust strategies in place, to save healthcare systems from being overwhelmed.”  

ADI says national dementia plans provide a framework for governments to structure health- and long-term care systems to provide best practice care and support for people with dementia and their families.

Australia released its National Framework for Action on Dementia 2015-2019 seven years ago.

Development of an updated national strategy was put on hold during 2020 because of Covid-19 and former Coalition Government said it began work on a new national plan late last year.

Global cost to hit almost US$3 trillion

The report estimates that 139 million people will be living with dementia worldwide by 2025, with the cost of the disease expected to hit $US2.8 trillion dollars by 2030.

About half of these costs were related to informal care, including 34 per cent to the social care sector and 16 per cent for direct medical care.

Informal carers are estimated to contribute about about eight hours of care a day, the report says.

“If hours of informal care are translated to full-time workers, it corresponds to about 67 million workers, of which 45 million are related to care activities.”

About 70 per cent of informal carers are women, according to the survey results.

More support for carers

Informal carers and care professionals need more resources and training, ADI says in the report.

“Far too often, informal carers lack access to the right resources to provide better support to people with dementia and to receive support for themselves,” it says.

“Care professionals, meanwhile, do not always receive specialised dementia training or guidance, affecting their ability to carry out their duties in an informed and considerate way.”

Although there are efforts being made to address this problem, a sustained response is needed from governments.

“ADI urges states to rectify this situation through robust national dementia plans that account for dementia’s effects, not only on the people living with the condition, but on their families and the communities in which they live.”

Care needs to be coordinated, with clear and accessible pathways, ADI says.

Resources available to carers include the iSupport training program developed by WHO and The ADI Accreditation program.

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Tags: ADI, Alzheimers-disease, alzheimers-disease-international, national-dementia-plan, news_6,

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