Among older people in the WHO European Region, dementia is the leading cause of dependency and disability. Dementia currently affects around 10 million people in the Region, and its prevalence is expected to double by 2030. Moreover, it places a burden on regional economies, with estimated costs of US$ 300 billion per year.
A lack of awareness and knowledge about dementia is prevalent in many countries. This results in stigmatization and barriers to early diagnosis and treatment. To address this, countries must recognize dementia as a public health priority and improve the care of people with dementia through early diagnosis, comprehensive treatment and support for caregivers.
Additionally, countries must scale up public awareness and advocacy to reduce stigmatization and discrimination, and improve the quality of life for people living with or affected by dementia. Research on risk factors and the effectiveness of new treatments also requires support.
The European Mental Health Action Plan 2013–2020 calls for activities to support mental health among older people, including:
- providing living spaces and neighbourhoods that are safe, convenient and accessible, as defined by older people, and that facilitate their participation, mobility and autonomy; and
- offering opportunities for electronic learning to facilitate older people’s access to social networks and early intervention programmes.