In support of World Alzheimer’s Month: A brief insight

Claire Montague, CACHE Subject Specialist, gives a brief insight into the global challenge of dementia.

With September comes World Alzheimer’s month.  Running since 2012, World Alzheimer’s month aims to increase public awareness and challenge perceptions in relation to dementia.  Dementia is a global challenge which has been recognised as a public health priority by the World Health Organisation.

We celebrate that we are living longer, but with the changing demographics and the growth of an aging population comes an increase in health conditions. Public Health England states that an estimated 44 million people around the world are living with dementia and it is predicted that this will rise twofold by 2030. In the UK alone statistics indicate that  850,000 people have dementia and it is anticipated that this will total over 1 million by 2025 and be in excess of 2 million by 2050 – a worrying concern for the nation.

In 2014 the Alzheimer’s Society published a study which examined the social and economic impact of dementia. It concluded that dementia costs the UK £26.3 billion, where health care costs were £4.3 billion and social care costs £10.3 billion. Staggeringly though it was found that the cost to people living with dementia and their families was £17.4 billion through provision of unpaid care or accessing private social care. It is inevitable that these costs will continue to spiral without targeted action. In fact, it is predicted that these costs will more than double by 2040.

It is reported by Public Health England that there are around 540,000 people in the UK who are primary carers, being a vital resource, however is this sustainable?

Caring for a loved one with dementia can be overwhelming, perhaps resulting in emotional and financial pressure. Alzheimer’s Research UK has looked at the impact on individuals of caring in relation to health, well-being and relationships. Statistics they have quoted from 2016 show 48.4 percent of carers have an illness or disability, 63.5% claim they have not received enough support, 15% are not employed as a result of their caring role and  36% care for more than a 100 hours a week. Of course we must not undermine that caring itself can bring many rewards.

What is clear is that dementia needs to be central to policy across the board. Alzheimer’s Research UK has identified 5 key areas for the UK government to support in order to improve the lives of individuals living with dementia by 2025: research, breakthroughs, early diagnosis, prevention and future treatment.

Interventions can be designed for the population, the community, the family and the individual. This means that carers and practitioners alike need to understand needs and resources available, and implement recognised approaches.

World Alzheimer’s Month provides opportunities and enables global messages to be communicated to relevant policy makers, so please do get involved.

How can we help?

Within our health and social care portfolio we have a range of qualifications that can support both carers and practitioner’s continuing personal and professional development. To find out more, please visit our QualHub website.