Wednesday, September 21, 2016

September 21 Is World Alzheimer’s Day

Today is World Alzheimer’s Day. Currently, an estimated 47 million people worldwide are living with dementia. Alzheimer’s is a global problem, and researchers around the world are working diligently to find a cure.

We already know that Alzheimer’s is the most expensive disease in America. It also has a devastating economic impact worldwide with a cost of $818 billion. Healthcare for persons with dementia are too specialized which increases the cost.

According to the World Alzheimer’s Report, “Currently, healthcare systems struggle to provide adequate coverage of diagnostic services, and care is too often fragmented, uncoordinated, and unresponsive to the needs of people with dementia and their families.”

A better approach, according to the report, would be to rebalance the services to primary and community with case management. Case management could be more effective if (a) caseloads were manageable, (b) clearly defined with training and adequate preparation and (c) the case manager would be empowered to coordinate care among providers.

This sounds like the purpose of the HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act!

We are looking forward to a world without Alzheimer’s, but until then, the report rightly observes, palliative and hospice care needs to be improved for those with dementia. It is important to consider preferences of people with dementia about end-of-life issues.

Only 40 – 50% of people with dementia have received a diagnosis. The executive summary of the report concludes with, “We need to focus on achieving high coverage of dementia diagnosis and continuing care, both to ensure access to current evidence-based treatments and support, and to create systems and platforms with the capacity to deliver, with equity, much more effective treatments in the future.”

On World Alzheimer’s Day 2016, advocates will continue in their efforts to increase research funding. Caregivers will continue to care for their loved ones. Hospice teams will help families face the inevitable end of this incurable disease. Families will pick up the pieces and go on living without fathers, mothers, spouses, siblings, aunts, uncles, friends, or even children who die from dementia.

World Alzheimer’s Report:

Copyright © September 2016 by L.S. Fisher

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