Every year 1.4 million Europeans develop some type of dementia. It is estimated that 35.6 million people worldwide suffered from dementia in all its forms in 2010. A report being debated Tuesday afternoon (18 January at 1600 CET) calls for more sharing of scientific knowledge, raising public awareness to recognise early symptoms and setting up specialist centres.
The number of sufferers of some form of dementia could nearly double every 20 years, possibly reaching 65.7 million in 2030.
The report by Portuguese MEP Marisa Matias (GUE/NGL) calls on European governments to make combating and treating Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias a priority. The report has already been backed by the Parliament's cross party Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety.
In particular the report calls for:
More cooperation between countries in research, care and prevention of Alzheimer's.
The launch of a European Year of Mental Health, complementing World Alzheimer’s Day on 21 September.
Efforts to raise public awareness about dementia in the EU, facilitating recognition of the early symptoms of dementia, setting up measures to strengthen research, improving access to diagnosis and drugs.
The setting up of specialist centres and the provision of satisfactory medical equipment and improvements to the skills of professional carers.
The development of action plans aimed at improving the well-being and quality of life of patients suffering from dementia and their families.
As the population ages dementia will increase
With the world population becoming older, diseases like Alzheimer's are a big challenge including from a financial point of view. Almost one in 20 people over the age of 65 and one in five over 80 suffers from dementia.
The symptoms of Alzheimer's are often confused with common signs of ageing and the number of people who have the disease without knowing it remains high. Today the total direct medical and social care costs of Alzheimer’s disease in Europe amount to over €100 billion.
"The increasingly ageing population and the mounting pressure on public finances and private productivity due to increased expenses for this ageing population will create a structural problem for Member States," the report says.
"Dementia is therefore expected to be one of the main challenges for the sustainability of national social and healthcare systems, including informal care and long-term care facilities, in the coming decades," it adds.