Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) and Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI) published a report that put a fine point on how serious a public health crisis dementia is becoming, and called on governments to step up their efforts to come up with concrete plans for how to handle it. According to the renowned Dr. Peter Piot, dementia is a "ticking time bomb".
The Australian Health Directory calls dementia "an economic and fiscal disaster waiting to happen."
The actual report, as of this writing, was unavailable for reading, but is supposed to be accessible sometime today.
However, this fact sheet and factoid-filled photo gallery from the WHO will provide some good quality insights on the subject of dementia. The international photos in the gallery are beautiful and touching.
The numbers are scary.
With a new case of dementia being diagnosed every four seconds, over seven million new cases per year, over 600 billion dollars per year being spent on dementia care even now, and healthcare costs dramatically rising, plan we must.
Several member countries of the WHO already have a plan in place for dementia. The United States plan is still in development. We are definitely going to need one. It is true that dementia is not a normal part of healthy aging, and that it is often overlooked and brushed aside because of ageism. However, with the greying of the American population, the number of people in age groups that are the most affected will be growing dramatically, which means that already scarce resources will be stretched beyond their limits.
Here's a positive note, though.
The FDA just approved Amyvid, a new compound developed by Avid Radiopharmaceuticals, a company recently acquired by Eli Lilly. Amyvid is used along with PET scans as a diagnostic tool, because it helps spot the amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer's Disease.
Anything that helps in more definitively diagnosing Alzheimer's brings hope to patients, loved ones, and medical professionals who are fighting the good fight.