Another Global Emergency-Dementia

The Economist August 29th 2020 | Dementia | “The forgotten problem” “The rising prevalence of dementia is a global emergency”

In light of the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and other current struggles, Dementia has fallen behind in our consciousness and in funding behind Cancer and Cardiovascular disease. Having said that, with over 50,000,000 WW living with Dementia, 60-80% of which is Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and most striking older folks, this is a current crisis requiring highly involved care and is expected to increase to 82,000,000 by 2030 and 150,000,000 by 2050. While research has lagged beyond for “disease-modifying-treatment by 2025” we fundamentally know that 40% of cases can be “delayed or averted” by losing weight, stopping smoking and exercising more. Also promising is that the FDA will rule by March 2021 on “whether to license a drug said to be the first to stem cognitive decline”…in AD.

Meanwhile taking care of dementia patients can't be significantly automated. Care will likely remain very labor-intensive and costly. Patients typically need round-the-clock care by those capable of care with “humanity and dignity.” This has a significant impact on health care bandwidth at a time when family support is dwindling due to decreasing family size and because of dual-income employment. Looking at institutions, prior to the pandemic 25% of British hospital beds were occupied by dementia patients.

Experts don’t see significant progress in averting this disease this decade. Consequently paying for care is also an ongoing concern. An example of attempting to cover costs is being used in Japan. They have “compulsory long-term-care insurance with those age 45-65 paying" into that fund. While this helps narrow the gap it still falls short leaving the remainder for individuals or for governments to impose increases on other general taxes.