Finland launches national dementia plan
Tuesday 08 May 2012
On 8 May, Finland launched a national dementia plan called the "National Memory Programme 2012-2020". The plan aims to create a "memory-friendly Finland" and was prepared by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health alongwith other organisations. According to Dr. Eila Okkonen, Executive Director of Muistiliitto (the Finnish Alzheimer Society), there will be four main areas of activity:
1) The promotion of lifelong brain health and the prevention of memory-related diseases. Brain health will be promoted both on a personal level and on a very broad level across society, including social and health services and education.
2) The ageing of the population is causing a marked increase of memory-related diseases in Finland. The plan will promote positive attitudes towards people with dementia in order to guarantee their basic human rights, including the right to self-determination.
3) Good care and rehabilitation is essential. It is important that memory-related diseases be recognised, diagnosed and treated as early as possible. There will be a particular focus on the entire care chain and its quality.
4) Support for high quality research and competence of professionals are important. Research efforts must be adequately resourced, in order to support the areas above and also to ensure further development. This includes developing the knowledge and competencies of health care professionals.
Muistiliitto has been a key supporter of the Memory Plan for many years. Mr Pekka Laine, the former head of the society, was particularly active in rallying support for the plan: the society has been part of the working group that planned the programme since 2010. Muistiliitto has also commissioned Memory Surveys and was a key player in preparing a national framework for high-quality services and care for older people.
There are currently some 120,000 Finns with memory-related diseases, of which 7,000-10,000 are of working age. Approximately 13,000 new diagnoses are made every year. Muistiliitto will continue its efforts to ensure that people with dementia and their carers can have a comfortable and meaningful life.