More than 5 million people in the United States are living with a diagnosis of dementia. Globally, it is the seventh leading cause of death among all diseases according to the World Health Organization. Societal costs of dementia are estimated at $605 billion per year, and as the population gets older overall, the number of people with dementia is only expected to increase, with estimates of over 7 million Americans living with dementia by 2025, and over 15 million by 2050.
Medical advancements in treating and diagnosing dementia are ongoing, improving the potential for easier and earlier diagnosis, and more effective treatments for the growing demand. The earlier a patient can receive a diagnosis of dementia, the sooner they can start treatment. To optimize the response to treatment, a number of things are essential:
- Personalizing the interventions, treating the person who has the disease and not only the disease
- Consider the needs of caregivers and family, treating the whole family and not just the patient
- Empower the patient to plan their future and offer continuing support, not just checking in every few months
- Identify the underlying disease causing the symptoms and disability, ensuring the use of appropriate and specific treatments.
Dementia is used to describe a group of symptoms that affect thinking and memory, mood and behavior, as well as language and social abilities. A dementia diagnosis requires three criteria. The person must have difficulties in more than one area of cognition, the problems must be progressive, and the problems must affect the person’s ability to take care of daily activities.