Over the next three decades, the number of individuals living with dementia will soar to 153 million, which is about 100 million more than a recent estimate of current cases.
The study, the first of its kind, reveals an unthinkable future that could put a major strain on health and social care systems, limiting resources and access to quality dementia care.
Published in Lancet Public Health, the Global Burden of Disease study took a close look at projections for adults over the age of 40 in nearly 200 countries. No country will be spared. Between now and 2050, some countries will see cases rise by an impossible 2,000%.
Global health leaders worry about the devastating effects increasing dementia cases will have on economies, societies and individual households, especially in communities where the disease will be most prevalent. The heartbreaking costs of dementia, a primary cause of disability and dependency among older individuals, does not only touch the lives of family and friends within the circles of impacted individuals, it can resonate throughout the community too. The study underscores the importance of government response and preparation.
Experts believe growing and aging populations will account for the large increase to the number of dementia cases. Risk factors such as obesity, high blood sugar and smoking will also contribute to the dramatic rise in cases.
The study also shed some light on a possible trajectory the disease can take. Since dementia is not an inevitable consequence of aging, the study asks how many cases could be prevented or delayed. Data suggest that it’s possible to alter the course for about 40% of cases. How’s this possible? The study indicates that 40% of cases could be prevented if exposure to certain risk factors is eliminated. These include high blood pressure, diabetes, air pollution, smoking and other major known risk factors.
Researchers believe more aggressive prevention efforts could help reduce the number of cases in the future. Lifestyle factors and disease-modifying treatments can play a major role in combating this disease. Education, better diets, exercise and treatments are the beacons of hope.
Dementia awareness is another reason for hope. My cutting-edge program helps entire organizations and individual households manage dementia care cases with compassion and a new perspective. The tools and techniques of being dementia aware improve care performance even when the challenges of care seem insurmountable.
Through dementia awareness, people living with dementia symptoms, and their family and professional care providers, will find new meaning and purpose through every interaction. There’s no reason why anyone diagnosed with dementia or memory impairment should have it any other way. And there’s no reason why family caregivers should not wake up every morning with peace of mind that their loved ones are in the best possible hands that focuses on enhanced care, which in turn gives rise to meaningful moments, connections and improved quality of relationships.
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