The Alzheimer Europe Group, a 30-year-old umbrella organization for dementia, published an updated policy review of dementia, outlining key challenges in formulating dementia-based policies and recommending future action.
Several research consortia have been set up since 2000 to assess the prevalence of dementia in Europe. According to 2019 estimates, the prevalence of dementia in men and women at a younger age (60-64 years: 0.2% and 0.9%) was low and rose steadily to its peak at age 90 or older (29.7%) % and 44.8)%), respectively. Compared with 2008 estimates, the prevalence of dementia has decreased across Europe.
The authors speculated that the decline could likely be due to public health efforts to promote cardiovascular health, reduce alcohol consumption and smoking rates, and promote active lifestyles.
Despite the decline in dementia cases, age remains an important predictor of dementia, and as the world population ages, the rate of dementia will increase over the next few decades.
Care for dementia patients in 2008 was estimated at EUR 160 billion and is expected to cost EUR 250 billion by 2030. Caring for dementia patients continues to be particularly challenging and costly approved for the treatment of dementia, none of which are curative because of the progressive nature of the disease and the fact that only 4 drugs were administered.
The Alzheimer Europe group has identified four key areas that the European Commission could target in order to reduce the rates, costs of care and cases of late diagnosis, and to alleviate the stigma of this complex disease.
This first step is to promote early diagnosis and healthy aging by mainstreaming the “dementia dimension” into European Union (EU) action. This should include supporting health professional training programs and prioritizing actions related to mental health and aging.
The second is to make a joint European effort to promote epidemiological knowledge and coordinate research between Member States by maintaining adequate funding and prioritizing joint research programs.
The EU can also coordinate patient care plans, where Member States can share data on which new strategies have been most effective and least effective, in order to streamline the dissemination and application of best practice.
Finally, the EU should set up a European network that guarantees the rights of people with dementia across the EU. The authors encouraged the EU to recognize dementia as a disability and to include dementia in disability policies, including those to support employment and to fund long-term care.
Dementia as a European Priority – A Policy Review 2020. Alzheimer Europe. https://issuu.com/alzheimer-europe/docs/dementia_as_a_european_priority. Accessed January 4, 2020.
This article originally appeared on Psychiatry Advisor