What Can We Do About Dementia?

According to the World Health Organization, 47 million individuals have been diagnosed with dementia with numbers increasing daily. With these staggering statistics, it is no wonder that treatment options need to be on the forefront of healthcare professionals’ minds.

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A diagnosis of dementia not only affects the individual carrying the diagnosis, but his or her family as well. I had studied dementia, witnessed it in patients, and understood medically what was taking place but that did not help to cushion the blow of watching my own father become engulfed in the grips of this life changing diagnosis. Watching someone you love personally become effected by dementia is not only challenging, but truly heartbreaking as well. In front of me stood a man with a life story that was full of love, laughter, and memories. This story was one that I was a part of and despite his confusion, disorientation, and blank eyes, I knew my father was still there.

For most, extending life for as long as possible is our main goal. However, with a diagnosis of dementia, the focus shifts from longevity to quality of life. We must step back and ask ourselves; “how can I provide my loved one with the highest quality of life possible?”. Once seemingly easy daily tasks such bathing and mobility now become new hurdles that must be faced on top of the emotionally draining changes that we witness in our loved one. With statistics showing 9.9 million new cases of dementia being diagnosed each year, the question now remains, how will the healthcare industry rise-up to ensure proper treatment for these new patients? The challenge of how to develop and support a dementia-capable workforce needs to be addressed.1

What will your organization’s plan be to ensure you have a dementia-capable team ready?

References:

  1. Gilster S, Boltz M, Dalessandro J: The Gerontologist, Volume 58, Issue suppl_1, 18 January 2018, Pages S103–S113, https://academic.oup.com/gerontologist/article/58/suppl_1/S103/4816757.