“Dementia is not a natural part of growing old”
Dementia is a syndrome, typically involving loss of memory, mood changes and problems with thinking, orientation, comprehension, calculation, learning capacity, language and judgement.
These symptoms occur when the brain is damaged as a result of one or more diseases or conditions, the most common one being Alzheimer’s disease. It is usually a progressive or chronic condition, which is not a natural part of growing old.
The way in which people experience dementia depends on numerous internal and external factors, including the support and treatment that is available to them. However, people with dementia are increasingly emphasising that despite the challenges it brings, it is possible to live well with dementia.
It is clear that no single country can overcome dementia’s financial and socio-economic impact; this will only be possible through a collective effort. In Europe, there are already many good examples of collaborative initiatives on dementia. The time has come now to bring these initiatives together under a comprehensive European strategy which is what we call for in our Declaration.
A public health priority
Dementia should be a public health priority for many reasons, including:
- Public health impact: there are currently 8.7 million people with dementia in the European Union and this number is expected to at least double by 2040.
- Socio-economic impact: the total cost of dementia disorders in the EU in 2008 was estimated to be EUR 160 billion, of which 56% were costs of informal care.
- Impact on carers: a survey by Alzheimer Europe found that the time spent on caring increases with disease severity: in the early stages, 20% of carers already reported that they spend more than ten hours per day caring for the person with dementia. This increases to 50% of carers of people with dementia in the late stages of the disease.
We will continue our campaign until 30 November, after which we will present the results at the European Parliament. Sign the #GlasgowDeclaration today and help make real change happen for people living with dementia!