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Different Approaches to Dementia Care Globally


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 quality of life for their residents. New technologies such as the iPad offers sufferers puzzles to exercise their minds, activities that improve dexterity and even apps that help them remember to take their medication. Additionally, light therapy, music therapy, art therapy and storytelling are also other techniques being used to help enhance the lives of dementia sufferers. There are many ways you can try and accommodate each resident’s needs such as using language cards that enable you to communicate with residents about their activities of daily living. Also it is important to encourage family members to bring in photos, tapestries, music, books and other family mementos from the resident’s home and then design their rooms to look and feel the same, and give them a sense of security and identity. Australia A U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging released a report in December 2012 analysed how 5 developed countries are dealing with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Included within the report were the U.S.A, Australia, United Kingdom, Japan and France. The report found that seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia are receiving the most care in Australia, as also the report also states that Australia also has the lowest incidence of dementia of the 5 countries studied and analysed. One point well noted in the report is that a difference between Australia and the other nations is that “Australia’s federal government has primary responsibility for planning and funding long term care for the aged… Aged care services are finances through taxes.” In other nations, including the United States of America, the government’s contribution to long term care for Alzheimer’s patients is much less and limited. Australia’s National Quality Dementia Care Initiative focuses very much on improving the quality of dementia care in Australia by enabling people with dementia and their carers to be more involved in care and dementia research. In fact, one goal of the initiative is to enable people with dementia and their carers to set priorities for dementia research and research knowledge translation.

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