Better training of health workers required to diagnose and treat dementia
Geneva, 11 April 2012 | The World Health Organization (WHO) and Alzheimer's Disease International, today, have released a new report entitled Dementia: a public health priority. Worldwide, nearly 35.6 million people live with dementia and this is this is likely to rise to more than 70% by 2050. The new report calls for early diagnosis; raising public awareness, reducing stigma; and providing better care and more support to caregivers.
According to the report, treating and caring for people with dementia currently costs the world more than US$ 604 billion per year. Strengthening care for people living with dementia and support to caregivers is key. "Health-care workers are most often not adequately trained to recognize dementia" says Dr Oleg Chestnov, Assistant Director-General, Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health at WHO.
Most care is provided by informal caregivers - spouses, adult children and other family members. The report notes that people who care for a person with dementia are themselves particularly prone to mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety, and are often in poor physical health themselves. Many caregivers also suffer economically as they may be forced to stop working, cut back on work, or take a less demanding job to care for a family member with dementia.
The report recommends involving existing caregivers in designing programmes to provide better support for people with dementia and at the same time, health workforce training needs to pay closer attention to the skills required to provide both clinical and long-term care.
Dementia is a syndrome caused by a variety of brain illnesses that affect memory, thinking, behaviour and ability to perform everyday activities.