This year the number of people globally with dementia stands at 35.6 million. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that by 2030, there will be 65 million people with dementia and by the middle of the century 115 million people will be affected by this. More than half of the people with dementia come from low-to-middle-income nations, and that number is expected to keep increasing.
Along with the rising numbers of dementia patients, also are the numbers rising in dollars spent on caring and treating for these patients. In many cases, it is not just the patient that is unable to work, but their caregivers have to give up their jobs. As of right now $604 billion is spent each year worldwide on dementia.
The WHO and Alzheimer's Disease International published a report called Dementia: a public health priority. This report illustrates the importance of diagnosing this early. Currently eight countries have an active national program to address the issue of dementia.
In most cases this is diagnosed once the disease is already in late stages. Authors of the report say that these programs should focus on better early diagnosis, improving public awareness, reducing stigma and providing better support for the caregivers.
The issue with the caregivers is that the majority of the time they are the patient's relatives or friends. As the primary caregiver, they are more likely to develop health issues of their own such as anxiety, depression and poor physical health. The pressure of taking on this role is incredibly stressful. As mentioned before many have to give up their jobs, so in addition to constantly caring for someone they are also suffering economically.
So when designing programs to effectively aid dementia patients, it is recommended that the caregivers be highly involved to insure proper support for themselves and the patient. The more the caregiver knows about helping the patient and the more assistance they have will help to extend the time the patient can remain at home. The costs of an assisted living facility can become very high.
This issue is like so many others in every industry today. Finding a way to improve something before it gets worse and becomes more costly just makes sense. 35 million is a significant amount of people and $604 billion is a significant amount of money.