Dementia costs put disease in the spotlight

Blog posted

22nd September 2010

Calls this week to make dementia a world health priority can’t have come soon enough.

I work within the elderly sector – and as care director for a retirement property developer and manager I see daily evidence of the disease and the affects it has on individuals and also their loved ones.

We can’t underestimate the devastation it causes mentally and physically, in some cases, and one of the frustrating reasons for this is because it goes largely ignored. Unbelievably it’s an illness many people still choose not to talk about.

Even the most dismissive of people and organisations can’t ignore the World Alzheimer Report though.

Instead of talking about the growing numbers of people with dementia, the report puts treatment for the disease into pounds and pence – a common language we can all recognise.

The report says that the costs associated with dementia will amount to more than 1% of the world’s gross domestic product this year at £388 billion.

It’s a terrifying figure and when put into monetary terms it’s amazing how it focuses attention.

The report’s authors say that dementia poses the most significant health and social crisis of the century as its global burden continues to escalate. These aren’t words plucked out of thin air to scare, they are based on the cold truths of the disease and the facts and figures as they stand today.

The number of people with dementia is expected to double by 2030 and more than triple by 2050. It’s not a problem that is going to fade away with time, it’s here to stay, it needs global investment in treatment and research if it is ever to be contained and a cure found.

I may work on the periphery but the evidence I see on a daily basis of how dementia affects unsuspecting vulnerable people and the grip it takes on their lives is destructive and devastating.

Let’s hope the World Health Organisation takes this week’s report seriously and we start to see some global weight and finances put behind fighting this modern day enemy – at last.

Paul Walsh
Managing Director, Care & Operations