This World Alzheimer's Day, Alzheimer Switzerland calls for basic health insurance to reimburse non-pharmacological interventions for people with dementia

21/09/2022

For World Alzheimer's Day 2022, Alzheimer Switzerland sent out the following release, about researching, promoting and funding non-drug treatments and called for of basic health insurance to reimburse non-pharmacological interventions for people with dementia: Some 150,000 people with dementia are currently living in Switzerland and there are 32,200 new cases each year. As age remains the main risk factor, this trend will continue: it is estimated that by 2050, some 315,400 people will have Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia. To support them and their families, it is essential to intensify research into non-drug treatments, promote them and ensure that they are covered by basic insurance throughout the course of the disease. Based on the latest population census (2021), Alzheimer Switzerland estimates that 150,000 women and men in Switzerland are currently affected by Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia. By 2050, the number of people with dementia in our country is expected to be around 315,400. Alzheimer's disease and other dementias often occur at an advanced age. Since women have a longer life expectancy, they are more heavily affected (66%). However, the disease can also affect young people who are still professionally active, though less frequently: only 7,700 or 5% of people with Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia are under 65.

Improving quality of life through non-drug approaches

The diagnosis of dementia causes a radical change in life, both for the person with the disease and for their relatives. As the disease progresses, the latter are heavily involved: of the 11.8 billion Swiss francs that all care and support tasks cost each year, they provide an estimated 5.5 billion francs of unpaid work. The constraints on patients and their families are considerable, especially since there is currently no effective medication and future treatments will not be suitable for everyone. In this context, non-drug treatments such as speech therapy, psychotherapy, music therapy or art therapy play an essential role: they contribute to a good quality of life and prolong the autonomy of people with dementia, while relieving the burden on their relatives. However, even today, too many patients do not have access to these approaches because they cannot pay for them or because their GP does not prescribe them. For Alzheimer's Switzerland, it is urgent that the basic insurance reimburses non-drug treatments, so that they are accessible to all, and that studies finally demonstrate their effectiveness. To this end, in March 2022, Alzheimer Switzerland submitted a request for the establishment of a national research programme on psychosocial interventions.

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