World Alzheimer Report: “Informal care not sustainable”

POSTED: 09/20/13 11:28 AM
ADI-representative Drs. Raynmond Jessurun. Photo contributed

ADI-representative Drs. Raymond Jessurun. Photo contributed

St. Maarten – The World Alzheimer Report 2013 will be presented today to Minister Cornelius de Weever, Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour. The report is released today by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) and examines the latest global and regional trends of people needing dementia care, and provides an analysis of long-term care systems around the world. World Alzheimer Day is on the agenda worldwide tomorrow.

The report reveals that as the world population ages, the traditional system of “informal” care by family, friends, and community will not be sustainable. Data from the 2013 World Alzheimer’s Report predict the number of dependent older people will rise from 101 million in 2010 to 277 million in 2050, an almost threefold increase. Nearly half of them are living with Alzheimer’s disease or other form of dementia, quickly becoming a global health crisis.

According to ADI representative to WHO/Paho Drs. Raymond Jessurun today more than 8 million people are living with dementia in this Paho-region. This amount will almost double to more than 15 million in 2030 and will be 500% higher in 2050. The lower and middle income countries of Latin America and the Caribbean will register the largest amount of the growth, with related economic hardship and challenges at the family and health care systems level.

This year’s world report provides a comprehensive view of the impact the disease has on society.  A particular focus this year was the impact of Alzheimer’s and dementias on those who provide care. The report concluded that there is need for additional support in order to lessen the burden on the individual as well as the global infrastructure.

Professor Martin Prince, leading author of the report, comments “People with dementia have special care needs. Compared with other long-term care users they need more personal care, more hours of care, and more supervision, all of which is associated with greater caregiver strain, and higher costs.  Their needs for care start early in the disease course, and evolve constantly over time, requiring advanced planning, monitoring, and coordination. That’s why dementia needs to be a public health priority and adequate planning needs to be in place so that people with dementia can live well.”

ADI is calling for all governments to make dementia a priority by developing National Dementia Plans to ensure that national health and social care systems are adequately structured and funded to provide high-quality long-term care to people throughout the dementia journey.

“We need to value those that provide frontline care for people with dementia. This includes paid, as well as unpaid family caregivers, who share much in common. Governments need to acknowledge the role of caregivers and ensure that there are policies in place to support them,” says Marc Wortmann, executive director of Alzheimer’s Disease International.

Sint Maarten’s government has already taken steps to prioritize Alzheimer and other dementias as part of its national development agenda, Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams said at the Alzheimer University Workshop last month. According to Minister de Weever the ministry of Public Health is writing a national dementia action plan.

Globally the current investment in research and development into dementia (including prevention, treatment, cure and care) is currently an order of magnitude lower than would be indicated given the burden and cost of the disorder, says this year’s report. It calls upon governments and research funders worldwide to transform their system of priorities, ensuring at least a tenfold increase in current levels of investment.

The Sint Maarten Alzheimer Foundation was established on February 22 of 2010 and has as board members Keith Franca, Raymond Jessurun, Patricia Pantophlet, Patricia Krolis and Sophia Farrell. The aim of the SMAF is to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s and other dementias, and to provide support to persons with these conditions and their caregivers. To achieve this aim the foundation cooperates with other entities and organizations locally (White and Yellow Cross Foundation, Mental Health Foundation, government entities) and internationally (Caribbean Dementia Awareness Alliance).

It provides information and advice (awareness campaigns), emotional and practical support to family caregivers (on a person to person basis and in caregivers support groups), education for family and professional caregivers and health care providers (lectures, presentations, workshops), it promotes early diagnosis (providing free memory testing and referral to home physicians), it protects the rights of persons with dementia and their family caregivers. SMAF became a member of ADI (Alzheimer Disease International) in March 2012 and a member of the Caribbean dementia Awareness Advocacy Alliance in August 2012.

ADI is the international federation of 78 Alzheimer associations around the world, in official relations with the World Health Organization. ADI’s vision is an improved quality of life for people with dementia and their families throughout the world. ADI believes that the key to winning the fight against dementia lies in a unique combination of global solutions and local knowledge. As such, it works locally, by empowering Alzheimer associations to promote and offer care and support for people with dementia and their caregivers, while working globally to focus attention on dementia and campaign for policy change from governments.


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