Dementia Cases To Triple

One issue that is in the news often these days is dementia. In Ireland, cases of dementia are set to triple over the next 25 years, according to one expert.

Professor Eamon O’Shea of the National University of Ireland in Galway said dementia was the most important ageing question facing society at present. Professor O’Shea is the director of a new centre which will carry out research into the condition. The centre was officially opened at the end of January.

Some 47,744 people are now living with dementia in Ireland. Approximately 4,000 of these people are under the age of 65. The number of people living with dementia is set to increase to 141,000 by 2041.

The costs of treating dementia – an umbrella term for a range of conditions that cause changes and damage to the brain – stands at €1.9 billion a year. Professor O’Shea estimates that families bear about half of these costs.

The new centre, called the Centre for Economic and Social Research on Dementia, will look at optimal, person-centred pathways to care, and placement for people on the margins of home care and residential care.

The centre’s mission is to support economic and social research on dementia in Ireland. It will also focus on collaboration around social research on dementia, and appraising the implementation of the National Dementia Strategy in Ireland.

Professor O’Shea said: “We want to examine the economic, social and emotional costs of caring for people with dementia, with a particular emphasis on non-pharmacological approaches.”

“We also want to fully explore the concept of personhood in dementia, which in essence means treating the person with dementia as a person in the first instance. Unfortunately, people with dementia have long experienced instances and behaviours which have denied their personhood, for example being ignored, disrespected or not treated with dignity.”

He added that the centre is committed to working with all dementia stakeholders, particularly those with the condition and their carers.

The centre was funded by a €16 million award from the Health Research Board.