Addressing Dementia

The OECD Response

image of Addressing Dementia

The large and growing human and financial cost of dementia provides an imperative for policy action. It is already the second largest cause of disability for the over-70s and it costs $645bn per year globally, and ageing populations mean that these costs will grow.

There is no cure or effective treatment for dementia, and too often people do not get appropriate health and care services, leading to a poor quality of life. Our failure to tackle these issues provides a compelling illustration of some of today’s most pressing policy challenges. We need to rethink our research an innovation model, since progress on dementia has stalled and investment is just a fraction of what it is for other diseases of similar importance and profile. But even then a cure will be decades away, so we need better policies to improve the lives of people living with dementia now. Communities need to adjust to become more accommodating of people with dementia and families who provide informal care must be better supported. Formal care services and care institutions need to promote dignity and independence, while coordination of health and care services must be improved. But there is hope: if we can harness big data we may be able to address the gaps in our knowledge around treatment and care.




Improving the lives of people living with dementia

The case for policy actionUntil a cure or preventive treatment for dementia is developed, policy must focus on improving the lives of people living with the condition and their families. This means keeping them as safe and healthy as possible, but also ensuring they live dignified lives, retain control and independence and maintain social relationships. All countries need to consider the key policy objectives identified in this chapter – covering all stages of dementia, from risk reduction and detection through to the end of life – and use the best available evidence to design appropriate policies. Some countries have published dementia strategies reflecting many of these priorities, but implementation remains a challenge. A better understanding of what works in improving the lives of people living with dementia is also needed. Countries should focus on evaluating their policies and sharing the results, and the development of an internationally comparable set of indicators around dementia should be explored.


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