The latest data suggest that dementia cases are increasing, with the currently estimated 50 million affected individuals expected to triple by 2050.1 The neurodegenerative condition is difficult for physicians to treat and manage, with only limited symptomatic treatments available and no approved therapies that can alter disease course. As well, attempts to improve earlier diagnosis—and thus earlier intervention—have proved similarly difficult.

In recognition of World Alzheimer Day, September 21, 2019, Alzheimer Disease International has released its yearly World Alzheimer Report, with a focus on the attitudes toward dementia conducted via the world’s largest survey on the topic, including almost 70,000 individuals. Notably, the report identified that almost 80% of the general population is concerned about developing dementia, with 25% believing nothing can be done and 62% of health care providers expressing their belief that dementia is part of normal aging.2

Additionally, the report suggests that perhaps the impact on families and caregivers is greater than previously believed, with more than half of the caregivers surveyed reporting that their own health has been impacted by their responsibilities, even in instances where they are satisfied with their role. 

To bring attention to these alarming findings, as well as to share their insight into the current state of dementia care and what can be done, NeurologyLive sat with a number of experts in aging and dementia: Alireza Atri, MD, PhD, medical director, Banner Sun Health Research Institute; Marc Agronin, MD, vice president, behavioral health and clinical research, Miami Jewish Health Systems; Brad Dickerson, MD, director, frontotemporal disorders unit, Massachusetts Hospital General; Mary Norman, MD, medical director, Highland Springs Erickson Living; and Lynn Shaughnessy, PsyD, ABPP/CN, director of neuropsychology, cognitive neurology unit, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
REFERENCES
1. World Health Organization. 10 facts on dementia. WHO website. who.int/features/factfiles/dementia/en. Updated September 2019. Accessed September 19, 2019.
2. Alzheimer’s Disease International. World Alzheimer Report 2019: Attitudes to dementia. ADI website. alz.co.uk/research/WorldAlzheimerReport2019.pdf. Published September 2019. Accessed September 19, 2019.