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There are 29% more people with dementia In Norway than previously thought, study finds

Friday 19 February 2021

A study, carried out by the Norwegian National Advisory Unit on Ageing and Health and published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, has found that there are 101,118 Norwegians living with dementia, 29% more than had been previously estimated. Results were presented to the Minister of Health and Care Services, Bent Høie and Minister of Agriculture and Food, Olaug Bollestad during Norway's annual "Demensdagene" - Dementia Awareness Days 2020.

In parallel, an interactive map of Norway was launched, based on the study and providing the number of persons diagnosed with dementia in each of Norway’s municipalities. It also predicts how their numbers will rise in the future.

“We are presenting, for the first time, a valuable tool that gives planners and politicians a solid foundation for smart decision-making. No one can excuse themselves in 2050, when the numbers with dementia have more than doubled, claiming ‘we didn’t know’,” said Geir Selbæk, research director at the Norwegian National Advisory Unit on Ageing and Health and professor at the University of Oslo. Until now, the prognoses were based on numbers from studies in other countries, and estimations ranged from 70,000 to 104,000 people living with dementia in Norway.

All residents of Nord-Trøndelag County over the age of 13 were asked to participate in this renowned study, and upwards of 10,000 in the age group 70+ were examined. The study was based on the Trøndelag Health Study (HUNT4), using questionnaires and clinical examination. People attended designated stations or were visited by the researchers, to undergo physical and cognitive tests. Taking this approach in their study, which is one of the largest studies of its kind in the world, Prof. Selbæk and his colleagues were able to achieve a far more accurate assessment of the numbers.

Prof. Selbæk gave further details on the methodology of the study: “Data from the examinations as well as results from interviews with a family proxy were sent to the country’s leading clinicians in this medical field and they diagnosed the participants. The experts worked in pairs and a third colleague was asked to help out in cases when they didn’t concur on a diagnosis. Eventually, they reached a consensus on all the diagnoses. The findings from Nord-Trøndelag were then extrapolated for the entire Norwegian population, with help from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.”

In addition to quantifying the dementia population in Norway, the Norwegian National Advisory Unit on Ageing and Health launched its "dementia map" to also indicate the prevalence of cases on the county and municipal levels. The numbers were achieved using population projection figures provided by Statistics Norway. The map shows that the share of persons over age 90 with dementia – the group with the largest health and care needs – will increase sevenfold by 2050. "This means we not only have to ratchet up the resources and care models we have today, but also have to really reconsider the ways we could provide good services for dementia patients in the future,” stated Prof. Selbæk. Government Ministers Bent Høie and Olaug Bollestad attended the presentation of the study in connection with the launch of the Dementia Plan 2025 at Demensdagene 2020.

The interactive map can be found at: demenskartet.no

The study can be found at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33427745/

 

Pictured: Olaug Bollestad (left), speaking with Norwegian National Advisory Unit on Ageing and Health Manager Kari Midtbø Kristiansen (centre) and Research Director Geir Selbæk (right) at the Norwegian National Advisory Unit on Ageing (Photo: Bente Wallander, Ageing and Health)

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