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Nessa Childers (Ireland)

MEPs speak out on dementia

AE:From a policy maker’s perspective, why do you think it is important to bring the challenge of Alzheimer’s disease to the front and centre of European Parliament and what could be done to meet this public health challenge?

NC:Far too often, when setting health policies, short-term budgetary pressures and priorities fail to live up to the socio-economic case for tackling the challenge of chronic and degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. There is no doubt that the burden of cost is greater on national health systems in countries where prevention is not a priority. Care costs will continue to rise as numbers of people with Alzheimer’s disease are expected to double or even treble by 2050, not to mention the pressures on people caring for those with dementia.

Across Europe, it’s true that the majority of people with Alzheimer’s are cared for at home, and problems arise with how people with dementia are supported as their condition deteriorates. Furthermore, dementia does not only affect those with with the disease but also their loved ones. This often means that people are not receiving adequate support. The European Parliament must champion the needs of the citizens who elect it directly across the EU and resist the self-defeating subordination of public policy to some arbitrary, short-term macroeconomic targets.

As the condition of people with dementia deteriorates, it can become difficult to provide care in their own home. People with dementia could have much longer and better quality of life if they received properly planned, person-centred care with good quality facilities and trained healthcare professionals working in respect of the dignity of the individual. For this you need resources and the means to carry out, and act upon, research. Again, the EU institutions are well placed to pool our knowledge and develop networks which will help us overcome the limitations we face at national level, not least due to prescriptions which have left the public provision of care under serious strain.

It's vital that policy makers confront this and that our approach changes to ensure people with dementia are properly diagnosed, supported to live meaningful lives and able to participate in the decisions that affect them



Last Updated: Thursday 07 September 2017