More than 20,000 in Ireland not getting care after dementia diagnosis, says new report

Post-diagnosis care can greatly extend and improve quality of life of people living with dementia

More than 20,000 Irish people with dementia have been offered no care following their diagnosis, a new report estimates.

They are among almost 47 million people living with dementia worldwide who do not receive post-diagnosis care, treatment or support, according to the World Alzheimer’s Report.

The report points out that post-diagnosis care can greatly extend and improve the quality of life of people living with dementia.

“We don’t question whether people with cancer need treatment, so why is it that when people receive a dementia diagnosis they’re often not offered treatment or care? Repeatedly, they’re just told to get their end-of-life affairs in order,” said Paola Barbarino, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Disease International, which publishes the annual report.

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“While dementia doesn’t yet have a disease-modifying ‘cure’, there is clear evidence that demonstrates that appropriate post-diagnosis treatment, care and support significantly improves the quality of lives of those living with this disease, allowing many to maintain independence for longer.”

“Coupled with improving diagnosis rates, post-diagnosis dementia care must be recognised as a human right.”

The number of people living with dementia is estimated at 55 million worldwide, with this figure set to rise to 139 million by 2050.

The report estimates that about 85 per cent do not receive care after their diagnosis, falling to 37 per cent in high-income countries such as Ireland.

The range of dementia care and treatment include drug and non-drug treatments, the provision of care, support for daily life activities, home adaptation, social inclusion and respite.

According to the report, 62 per cent of healthcare professionals surveyed wrongly believe dementia is a normal part of ageing, and this belief fuels the lack of support offered to people living with dementia.

Almost 60 per cent said they did not feel they had adequate time to provide care for a person living with dementia.

About 11,000 new cases of dementia are diagnosed in Ireland each year, 10 per cent of them in people aged under 65.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is Health Editor of The Irish Times