Warning Over Rise in Dementia
Resource type: News
Irish Times | [ View Original Source (opens in new window) ]
By Ronan McGreevey
The number of people with dementia in Ireland is expected to triple over the next 30 years and will be a “huge burden” on the state without a long-term strategy, the Minister for Health James Reilly has warned.
Currently, an estimated 41,000 Irish people have dementia costing an estimated €1.7 billion every year but that figure is likely to rise to 147,000 by 2041.
It has also emerged that diagnosis of dementia is the exception rather than the rule for those who still live at home.
A new report into the prevalence of dementia in Ireland estimates that 41,700 have the disease based on prevalence in other countries and 26,104 are cared for in their own homes, the rest live in long-term care.
There are an estimated 50,000 family carers in Ireland looking after someone with at least one of the six specified symptoms of dementia.
The report, which will form the basis of the Government’s national strategy on dementia, stated that most of those who remain at home “are not aware that they have the disease and few are likely to be in contact with the health and social care systems.”
Mr Reilly told a conference on dementia in Trinity College’s Science Gallery today that a better diagnosis of dementia had to a priority. He said GPs and other health professionals needed better training in recognising the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. He said early intervention and diagnosis would give dementia sufferers the best quality of life possible.
The Minister described dementia as a “tragedy” for families. He told the conference that many families would empathise with the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan whose wife Flor has Alzheimer’s who gave an interview to Pat Kenny about it last year.
“Watching him I was struck by how often he spoke about his failures. He said he didn’t make decisions as quickly as he should have done. I suspect many families in similar situation found themselves nodding as he talked. One of the cruelties of Alzheimer’s is its unpredictability.”
The report, entitled Creating Excellence in Dementia Care, was funded by Atlantic Philanthropies to provide evidence-based research for the purpose of supporting the National Dementia Strategy which was promised in the Programme for Government.
Co-author Professor Suzanne Cahill said dementia remains “hidden and largely invisible in Ireland and is a hugely underfunded and under-prioritised health issue in the country”.
She said other countries most notably England, France, Norway and the Netherlands had well-developed strategies which focus diagnosis, improving quality of life and quality of care and training for health professionals in the field.
Trinity Foundation is an Atlantic grantee.