NewsThe number of people suffering from dementia is increasing...

The number of people suffering from dementia is increasing sharply worldwide

The World Health Organization expects significantly more people with dementia in the coming years. Discrimination against the sick is also feared.

Geneva – According to a study by the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of people with dementia will rise rapidly. By 2030, around 40 percent more people worldwide are likely to be living with dementia than today. According to estimates, around 55 million people worldwide were affected in 2019, as reported by the WHO.

According to the Federal Ministry of Health, around 1.6 million people live with dementia in Germany. The positive message: Many people could significantly reduce their risk of developing dementia, for example through a healthier lifestyle, good schooling and intact social contacts. “School education builds brain reserves,” said WHO expert Katrin Seeher in Geneva. She named obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and social isolation as risk factors for dementia. According to WHO information, smoking and drinking alcohol are also included. Protection of the brain, such as wearing helmets for certain activities, also reduces the risk of dementia, said Seeher.

One of the main reasons for the rising numbers is the fact that people are getting significantly older than previous generations thanks to better living conditions. The risk of developing non-communicable diseases, including dementia, generally increases with age. “Dementia robs millions of people of memory, independence and dignity, but it also robs us of the people we know and love,” said WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Tedros: Doing more for life in dignity

Dementia is usually a progressive disease in the course of which those affected lose cognitive abilities, for example in memory, orientation and language, understanding, learning, planning and assessing. Emotional and social skills can also slowly be lost. This happens more often with advancing age, but illness or injury can also trigger changes in the brain and thus dementia, including strokes, accidents or Alzheimer’s disease.

Most countries are not sufficiently prepared for the growing number of people with dementia, according to the WHO. “The world is failing people with dementia,” said Tedros. More must be done to support those affected in a dignified life and not to leave carers alone. “People with dementia and their families and carers experience discrimination based on age, stigma and social exclusion. There must be no place for that in our societies, ”said the WHO.

The WHO presents the national dementia strategy developed in Germany since 2019 as a good example. It should ensure that people with dementia stay “in the middle of society”, as it says in it. She also praises the regional Alzheimer’s societies for their commitment during the corona pandemic. They would have created information material, podcasts and videos to support people with dementia and their caregivers during the time.

The WHO writes that interest in research into drugs against dementia has declined after many disappointing clinical studies. However, the United States, for example, has increased its annual investment in Alzheimer’s research from 631 million dollars in 2015 to 2.8 billion dollars (around 2.4 billion euros) in 2020. dpa

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