The European Institute of Women’s Health is to be congratulated on the publication of Dementia Care: Challenges for an Ageing Europe, which highlights the challenges posed by Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias to European Member States.
The cross-country comparison of policies and practices undertaken in this report provides a valuable assessment of the variation that currently exists regarding treatment of dementia and support of carers. The European Institute of Women’s
Health rightly points out that the challenge facing Europe as a community lies in developing an interdisciplinary combination of medical, clinical, social, economic, governmental and personal approaches to those with dementia and their families.
The recommendation of the report that special emphasis should be placed on the “personhood” of the dementia patient is to be welcomed particularly. It reiterates key policy principles that the underlying goal across the European Union must be to help maintain dementia patients in conditions of dignity and independence as long as possible, with strong support for carers.
Dementia affects a significant proportion of our elderly population. Alzheimer’s disease, which accounts for half the cases of dementia, strikes 1 in 20 over age 65. And dementia is particularly difficult for women. To add to this, Europe is getting older. The number of people – and particularly women – over 60 years of age is expected to double by the middle of the next century.
I also welcome the report’s observation that both the opinion leaders and the general public who shape policy need a great deal more information about dementia and the level and magnitude of care it requires. This report goes a long way towards providing this vital information. It is an important springboard for the development of future policy based on solutions and interventions that preserve people’s humanity and delay or prevent institutional care as long as possible.
I hope that this report is circulated as widely as possible. It deserves to be read by as many people as possible and especially by women who may bear the brunt of dementia as patients and as carers in the future.
Member of the European Commission