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PO19. Socio-economic aspects of dementia

Detailed programme, abstracts and presentations

PO19.1. Prevalence of dementia in Norway

GJØRA Linda1, SELBÆK Geir2

1The Norwegian Advisory Unit on Ageing and Health, Levanger, Norway, 2The Norwegian National Advisory Unit on Ageing and Health, Lillehammer, Norway

In Norway there are no valid estimates of the prevalence of dementia. The estimates currently in use range from 70,000 to 104,000 and are based mostly on old studies and studies from other countries. This makes planning of both today`s and tomorrow`s dementia care difficult.

To enable planning of good care for people with dementia and their carers, it is decisive to have more accurate estimates of the total number of people with dementia. On behalf of The Norwegian Directorate of Health, as a measure in the Norwegian Dementia Plan 2020, The Norwegian National Advisory Unit on Ageing and Health are doing a prevalence study on dementia. 

We will make valid estimates on the prevalence of dementia and the most common subtypes of dementia (Alzheimer, vascular, Lewy body and frontotemporal dementia). The study is linked with the fourth wave of the population-based health study in Trondelag (HUNT) in 2017-2019. 10,600 persons over 70 years from 24 different municipalities are included and have been assessed for cognitive function, activities of daily living and neuropsychiatric symptoms. The participants are assessed at a test station, in their home or in the nursing home. Inclusion was based on informed consent or consent by proxy in case of reduced capacity to consent. For persons scoring below a predefined threshold on cognitive assessments an interview with a next of kin was conducted. The interview was done to get more information on symptom start and progression. Diagnoses will be set independently by two doctors with special clinical and research competence in neurology, geriatrics or old age psychiatry. For describing the prevalence of dementia in the age groups under the age of 70, data from the Norwegian study Young Dementia in Trondelag will be used.

The results will be available in 2020.  

PO19.2. Anticipatory grief in dementia: An ethnography of loss and continuing bonds


University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands

In dementia, cognitive and physical capacities gradually decline. Family members can experience a process of gradual loss while the person with dementia is still alive, often phrased in terms of feeling that the person is “already gone” while “still here.” This brings about a social imaginary wherein the person with dementia embodies an ambiguity of simultaneous absence and presence. In this paper, I explore the social dynamics of how family members negotiate this ambiguous experience, drawing focus to experiences of anticipatory grief and efforts to maintain valuable connections. I present a perspective that recognizes the grief that can emerge in the experiences of family members as they encounter moments of loss before biological death, while also paying attention to how meaningful relationships can be transformed and maintained in the face of loss. Based on 18 months of ethnographic research in nursing homes in the Netherlands, I show that in this negotiation, the relationship with the person with dementia is readjusted and their personhood recognized. Embracing such ambiguous experiences can make us aware of new forms of knowledges and generate new opportunities of how to live with dementia, provide care and sustain connections.

PO19.3. “Come to Your Senses - Dementia-sensitive design saves money!”

DIETZ Birgit

BIfadA (Bavarian Institute of Architecture for the elderly and cognitively impaired), Bamberg, Germany

As we age, we must all adjust to the increasing functional limitations of our bodies, our senses and our mind. As long as we are still able to understand what is happening to us, we are able to develop our own individual strategies to compensate. For example, we put on glasses and seek a place with good illumination to read.

However, when the normal aging process is accompanied by dementia, architects and designers must strive to offset the limitations of our bodies by designing surroundings that offer practical solutions. A decline in abilities should trigger efforts to make that person’s surroundings safe and understandable, create a built environment that is increasingly supportive and compensatory, like a prosthesis.

If such efforts are not made, a loss of competence becomes evident and a feeling of uncertainty arises. If the senses can no longer ‘read’ the environment and the memory can no longer retain previously known patterns, the result is fear. Fear in turn results in actions such as aggression, running away or hiding, and ultimately to social isolation.

Thus, it is crucial to minimise this feeling of incompetence and uncertainty. Building for the elderly means thinking about acoustics, colours, orientation aids, lighting and additional practical details. This study describes how taking this approach as an architect can reduce caretime as well.

We timed how long it takes staff in a hospital to help patients get to and use the toilet. Moreover, we examined whether architectural measures can promote the independent use of the toilet and thus save nursing time. The results indicate that even small modifications in the patient's room and inside the bathroom can support independent use. Taking on average just 15 minutes, these minor modifications demonstrate that dementia-sensitive design can markedly reduce care time.



Last Updated: Monday 07 October 2019


  • Acknowledgements

    The 29th AE Conference in The Hague received funding under an operating grant from the European Union’s Health Programme (2014-2020). Alzheimer Europe and Alzheimer Nederlands gratefully acknowledge the support of all conference sponsors.
  • European Union
  • Roche