Policy

  • Develop financial, legal and social service models for dementia to ease the burden on patients, their families and carers.
  • Encourage the collection of comparable data at a European level on the social and economic costs of dementia as a basis for policy planning.
  • Strengthen and develop voluntary services and public sector partnership models
  • Develop legal safeguards to protect the individual rights of people with dementia.
  • Encourage the exchange of information on models of best practice between EU member states.
  • Develop policies that delay or prevent institutional care by offering a range of care and housing options, thus enabling dementia patients to remain at home or in the community as long as possible.
  • Encourage a multidisciplinary approach to dementia integrating medical, social and governmental sectors in dementia care.
  • Establish a range of care and housing options in the community that will delay or prevent institutional care.
  • Give dementia services a specific priority in the broader context of health care.
  • Develop a set of standards for the provision of home care.
  • Initiate further reports on the scientific information needs of home carers.
  • Establish speciality or ‘one-stop shops’ to defragmentise care, simplify procedures for carers and provide a central contact for interfacing with relevant agencies.

If Member States are to plan for adequate dementia care and services in a humanitarian and cost-effective manner, it is essential to determine the cost of dementia to the State at progressive stages of the illness for the family, the community and the healthcare system.

Research

  • Conduct gender-comparable studies to investigate the impact of dementia among men and women.
  • Initiate further research into psychosocial aspects of dementia and its impact on families, carers, patients and societies as a whole.
  • Encourage pharmacological research for the development of useful therapies with minimal side effects.
  • Examine preventive strategies in relation to lifestyle issues in particular cardiovascular disease and dementia.

Education

  • Educate both public and policy-makers about dementia and emphasise the magnitude of care required, emphasising that dementia is an illness amenable to care and treatment, not an inevitable process of ageing.
  • Initiate broad based campaigns to educate clinical and social service providers and ensure the inclusion of dementia topics as a standard part of medical curricula and training, thereby ensuring timely diagnosis and treatment.
  • Educate families about early diagnosis and treatments available while allowing them every opportunity to make decisions and arrangements for continuing care.
  • Initiate public health education regarding the benefit of lifestyle changes in reducing vascular dementia.

Quality of Life and Independence

  • Emphasise ‘personhood’ of the dementia patient and keep treatment and care focused on preserving the quality of life for patients and maintaining their dignity.
  • Provide regular respite care and emergency support for home carers, who are themselves subject to stress-related physical and mental illnesses.
  • Develop training programmes for voluntary and paid carers to enhance the level of care. Training courses should cover areas such as making the home safe for dementia patients, managing incontinence, feeding and bathing, time and stress management, recognising non-dementia illness, dealing with aggression and maintaining patient independence.
  • Provide counselling services to help carers cope with depression and the stress of care.

Care must be tailored to the needs of individuals and their families rather than to the established practices od institutions or the public system. The issue is not simply managing dementia patients but helping them make the most of their remaining years.

 


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