Care Needed: Improving the Lives of People with Dementia

Across the OECD, 19 million men and women are living with dementia, with far too many experiencing a poor quality of life. Worldwide, someone develops dementia every three seconds. With no clinical breakthroughs, the number of people with dementia is set to grow and OECD countries are under increasing pressure to address the consequences of dementia


Renewing priority for dementia:
Where do we stand?


☛ Dementia has stayed high on the policy agenda, but progress in addressing dementia has not kept up with the scale of the challenge. The number of people living with dementia in OECD countries increased by nearly 2.5 million between 2013 and 2018, while mortality attributable to Alzheimer’s and other dementias increased in recent years by more than 50% in some countries. Across the OECD, more than one in five people aged 85 and over has dementia. At least 23 OECD countries have developed national dementia plans, up from eight in 2013, though implementation varies considerably.

☛ Despite progress in identifying people with dementia, the diagnostic process is still poor and diagnosis rates are too low. More than half of people with dementia in OECD countries still do not receive a diagnosis, with little progress in most countries since 2013. In OECD countries, only Denmark and the United Kingdom have set targets to improve diagnosis rates. 26 OECD countries have emphasised the role of primary care in diagnosing and caring for dementia, yet dementia training is not incentivised and the share of general practitioners has also fallen, making up less than a quarter of physicians in the EU. Linking data across primary care and other health settings, which is important to follow people across the care pathway and provide them with better care, is becoming more frequent. However, two-fifths of OECD countries do not regularly link data across four or more key data sets.

☛ Despite progress in increasing awareness and reducing stigma, poor-quality care persists. More than 90% of OECD countries have developed dementia-friendly initiatives to support the development of dementia-friendly communities, though their reach remains limited. 19 OECD countries have established paid leave for carers. Despite guidelines suggesting more conservative use, antipsychotic usage for people with dementia has increased in one-third of reporting OECD countries. Only four OECD countries have developed dementia-friendly design guidelines for health and social care.


What should policymakers do next?

⚠ Strengthen the transparency and monitoring of the effectiveness, safety and patient-centredness of dementia care. Step up efforts to better identify and diagnose patients with dementia, and raise standards of care through better measuring of quality of care metrics for dementia.

⚠ Harness the power of data available across health care settings to improve research and the quality of life for people with dementia. Promote efforts to link data to ensure information about patients is shared across parts of the health system frequently used by people with dementia, including primary care, long-term care, and hospitals.

⚠ Strengthen collaboration between stakeholders and increase public investment in dementia research. Maintain the commitment of countries and the global community to encourage clinical breakthroughs that can help improve the lives of people living with dementia both today and in the years to come.


Putting dementia higher on the agenda, Diagnosing and identifying dementia, Living well with dementia. [Continue read full article]

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