September has been designated the first-ever World Alzheimer's Month by Alzheimer's Disesase International. For the third year in a row, the annual report on the study of this disease called,
'The World Alzheimer Report 2011' is now available online at http://www.alz.co.uk/worldreport2011.
Produced after a comprehensive study and systematic review the Report says that it is possible to promote earlier diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease (AD), and that early therapeutic intervention can improve cognitive function.
Important points mentioned in the study are:
- Improving primary care educational programs, early-stage dementia care services (eg, memory clinics),
- Promotion of effective interaction with healthcare providers to increase the likelihood of earlier diagnoses;
- The effect of a dementia diagnosis depends on how the news of the diagnosis is broken; (when people with dementia are well prepared and supported, their initial feelings of shock, anger, and grief often give way to a sense of reassurance and empowerment)
- Earlier diagnosis allows patients to plan ahead while they can still make important decisions about their future care and allows them and their families to access timely practical advice and support, as well as to access available therapies that may improve their cognition and enhance their quality of life;
- Most people with early-stage dementia would want to be told of their diagnosis.
The Report recommends that every country should have a national dementia strategy that promotes early diagnosis and intervention through public awareness, training of healthcare and social workers, and the strengthening of health systems. It also recommends that providers of primary care be competent in early detection of dementia, in making and imparting a provisional dementia diagnosis, and in initial management of dementia and where feasible, networks of specialist diagnostic centers should be established to confirm early-stage dementia diagnoses and to make sure that care management plans be formulated.
Availability of effective medicines for people with dementia should be publicized to healthcare and social care professionals. More research should be commissioned and funded to improve drugs for early stages of the disease and for improving quality of life.
The Report estimates that the number of people with dementia is expected to nearly double every 20 years, from 36 million in 2010 to 115 million in 2050.