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Different Approaches to Dementia Care Globally

May 14, 2013

 

Different Approaches to Dementia Care Globally

According to a report by Alzheimer’s Disease International, nearly 36 million people across the globe have Alzheimer’s disease. And without a cure found, the likelihood is that this number will surely increase to 115 million people by 2050. Given this increase more and more countries are recognising Alzheimer’s disease as a health crisis, and from some research here follows some findings on how some countries are approaching dementia care and an ever increasing ageing population who are likely to suffer age-related cognitive impairment.

United Kingdom

Dementia Friends is a government funded initiative run by the UK Alzheimer’s Society that aims to educate the UK public about what living with dementia is like. The UK Government admitted themselves that general awareness about Alzheimer’s is “shockingly low,” So Dementia Friends mission reads “Dementia Friends aims to make everyday life better for people with dementia by changing the way the nation thinks, talks and acts.” “We want there to be a million dementia friends by 2015 with the ‘know-how’ to feel understood and included in their community.”

For more information on Dementia Friends, please click on the following link: http://www.dementiafriends.org.uk/

Belgium

One interesting development is the city of Bruges in Belgium where a vast array of measures have been put in place to help make the city safe and welcoming for dementia sufferers. The   BBC reports that Bruges is turning itself into a dementia-friendly city by making widespread changes across the city such as adding special signs to shop windows which indicate that these places are safe places for dementia sufferers to go who are lost or simply need help. Bruges has also created and maintains a database of people at risk of wandering alone so that they can be located quickly and found should they get lost. The database includes the location of places where the registered dementia sufferers used to live and work, as these places are often the places they will look for when they are lost and wandering around.

For more information on Bruges in Belgium, please click on the following link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-21516365

The Netherlands

The Netherlands has a specific focus on progressive dementia treatments and has their own National Dementia Programme. One of the most well-known dementia care communities globally is located just outside Amsterdam.   The memory care community Hogewey, dubbed “Dementiaville” on a UK TV programme has received heaps of international press for designing and building a community that enables their residents to live without locks and minimal medication within their own property and go about their daily life doing the things they love to do such as shopping, cooking, cinema and visiting their hairdressers. Put simply, all the patients are encouraged to do the “same things they loved before their illness took hold.” The dementia community is part of a 20-year experiment where residents are “happy” and “full of life.” Because of the success at Dementiaville, a much larger version of this community is currently being built in Switzerland and scheduled to open in 2017.

Japan

Japan’s low birth rate and an extraordinary longevity has made Japan one of the oldest countries in the world. So given this combination Alzheimer’s and dementia is a major public health concern for Japan. One of Japan’s main contributions to memory care is something known as “learning therapy”— a simple dementia therapy created by Ryuta Kawashima. During learning therapy, dementia patients are asked to undertake simple arithmetic as well as reading stories aloud from books every day. Evidence suggests that it can improve the quality of lives and slow cognitive decline.

China

China has adopted many Western customs during its move to an open society and market-oriented economy. This includes caring for dementia sufferers in therapeutic memory care facilities. Until the 1990's, Alzheimer’s and dementia was alike many other things seen as a stigma with sufferers often placed in psychiatric wards. And given this clear shortage in satisfactory accommodation for the sufferers there has been a building boom in memory care communities. China does not pay for long-term care and the elderly in China must more likely rely on their family members to pay for their senior care.

United States of America

The United States government is attempting to cure Alzheimer’s by 2025. Memory care communities are focusing on new dementia treatments that improve the qua