Millions of Germans suffer from dementia

Millions of Germans suffer from dementia

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Alzheimer's Day: Millions of Germans suffer from dementia

Almost one and a half million people in Germany suffer from dementia. The health system is not prepared to care for more and more people who are losing their memories. This is what a renowned health researcher said in an interview on the occasion of the upcoming World Alzheimer's Day.

The number of people with dementia will double by 2050. According to the German Alzheimer's Association, around 1.47 million people in Germany suffer from dementia. It is estimated that the number will even double by 2050. The majority of dementia patients are cared for at home. As the renowned health researcher Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Hoffmann from the Ernst Moritz Arndt University in Greifswald said in an interview that greater care should be given to the caring relatives. The interview with the dpa news agency took place on the occasion of World Alzheimer's Day. On this day of action, which has been taking place on September 21 every year since 1994, a wide range of activities are being carried out worldwide to raise public awareness of the disease.

A major challenge for society When asked whether the existing health care system in Germany can provide care for up to three million people in need in the future, Hoffmann replied that this has not been prepared for years of care for dementia patients. He said: “The care aspect for people suffering from the incurable disease is underestimated. We have to see that there is a resilient and stable network of care options. ”In addition to the home environment, care facilities and care services, this also applies to occupational therapy, physiotherapy, the family doctor and the pharmacist. So far, this network-like, regional care structure has not been well mapped in the German health system. Society is facing a major challenge, according to the expert. "We have to learn dementian."

Most people with dementia are cared for at home Hoffmann confirmed that most people with dementia are cared for at home by relatives. This was what both those affected and their relatives wanted. From a medical point of view, it is important that people with dementia stay in their familiar surroundings. There are often "complications and worsening of the clinical picture if they are removed from their familiar environment." Home care is also useful for health economic reasons. A full-time place in a nursing home is not only significantly more expensive, but nursing staff are also lacking. “However, we are not concerned with preventing admission to the nursing home. In certain cases it is exactly the right solution, ”says Hoffmann. In other countries, efforts are being made to respond to the rising costs of dementia with grants. It was only reported a few months ago that the British government is making available around EUR 20 million to help develop an effective medication for the common disease and thus also to reduce economic costs.

Care mechanisms for people with dementia Hoffmann, who in a study examines the care mechanisms for people with dementia in home care, explained that those affected need a careful examination and a robust differential diagnosis first, and then reasonable medication. “As a rule, those affected have other diseases that also need to be treated. These drugs can interact with the drugs for dementia, ”said the expert. Then it is crucial how the caring relatives are doing, whether they need help and if so, which, and whether there is a stable social environment. Social law issues such as clarifying the level of care or the question of who would pay the costs of the home renovation would also need to be clarified.

Relatives play a key role in childcare When asked how family members who play a key role in domestic childcare can be supported, Hoffmann explained: “We have to pay more attention to family members, and without their support, people can be looked after at home not with dementia. ”If these structures break down, the only thing left is instruction in special nursing homes. It is therefore in the interests of those affected and their relatives to stabilize the situation at home as long as possible. "We have to recognize at an early stage whether and when the relatives reach their limits after all-round care in order to quickly establish support structures," says Hoffmann. "The caregiving relatives often keep silent about their burdens because they feel embarrassed and inappropriate to talk about them." (Ad)

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Video: Living with dementia: the long goodbye. DW Reporter