World Alzheimer Report highlights palliative care as an area for further research

Categories: Research.

Entitled ‘The global impact of dementia: an analysis of prevalence, incidence, cost and trends’, the report includes in its conclusions the recommendation that “research investment for dementia should be upscaled, proportionate to the societal cost of the disease.”

It goes on that say that this investment in research “should be balanced between prevention, treatment, cure and palliative care.”

The recommendation also calls for a specific work stream for low and middle income countries, involving partners from these countries, to develop programmes that raise awareness of dementia and improve health system responses.

The report also established important figures regarding the prevalence of the disease and the strain that it puts on healthcare systems around the world. It found that there are currently 46.8 million people living with dementia around the world, with that number projected to reach 74.7 million in 2030 and over 131.5 million by 2050. At present, 58% of all people with dementia live in low and middle income countries.

The worldwide cost of dementia is estimated at US$818 billion, a figure which is set to rise to $1 trillion over the next three years and to $2 trillion by 2030.

In a statement at the first WHO Ministerial Conference on Global Action Against Dementia, held in Geneva earlier this year, the World Hospice Palliative Care Association (WHPCA) noted that “palliative care has been widely recognised as a key approach to improve the quality of life of people living with, and dying from, dementia, and their carers.”

It continued: “As our populations age it is absolutely fundamental that we build health and social care services around the world to provide person centred care right through the life course to the end of life. There is always something that can be done, even when cure is not possible, and the palliative care approach should be available to all those living with, and dying from, dementia and other life-limiting conditions.”

Hospices around the world are increasingly being called upon to care for people with dementia; in March, Hospice UK launched guidelines entitled ‘Hospice enabled dementia care – the first steps’ as an aid for providers of palliative care when dealing with dementia patients and their families.

The World Alzheimer Report now has its own website, from which the report and other resources can be downloaded.

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This article was originally published on ehospice International edition.