Dementia is a global public health challenge. A range of actions is required to improve care and services for people with dementia and their caregivers. These actions include advocacy and awareness raising, developing and implementing dementia policies and plans, health system strengthening, capacity-building, supporting caregivers and research. The actions need to be context-specific and culturally relevant’ (World Health Organization, 2012).

Dementia is a major contributor to the global burden of disease and is the second largest cause of disability for people over 70 years of age (OECD, 2015).

  • Worldwide, there are currently 47.5 million people estimated to be living with dementia and there are 7.7 million new cases every year (World Health Organisation, 2015).
  • This has been projected to rise to 75.6 million in 2030 and to almost triple by 2050 to 135.5 million.
  • The growing numbers of people with dementia who will require health or social care supports present a substantial care and financial challenge to governments to plan accordingly (WHO, 2012).
  • The recent World Alzheimer Report (2016) estimates the current worldwide cost of dementia at $818 billion with 40% of these costs attributable to informal care provided by family and friends in the community.
  • By 2030, the cost of caring for people living with dementia worldwide could be a staggering US$ 1.2 trillion (WHO 2013) which would undermine social and economic development globally. 

This increase presents a growing challenge to both service providers and policy-makers world-wide and has resulted in dementia becoming a priority issue at an international level. This development also presents an opportunity to assess current services for people with dementia and the improvements that can be made to meet increased future demands.

Dementia in Ireland

Like many other countries, Ireland faces challenges with increasing prevalence and costs of dementia. It has been estimated that in Ireland approximately 55,000 people were living with dementia in 2016. This is expected to reach 94,000 by 2031 (Pierce, Cahill and O'Shea 2013). The cost of dementia care has been estimated at €1.69bn per annum (Connolly et al, 2014).

The HSE* & Genio Dementia Programme transforms and develops services to enable people with dementia to remain living at home in their own communities. This is in line with government policy and also supports families and local communities in this goal. 

    *The Health Service Executive (HSE) Ireland is the government agency which provides all of Ireland's public health services in hospitals and communities across the country.

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