Alzheimer's disease impacts people around the globe, in every country, but that doesn't mean victims of the disease are receiving the treatment they need. According to a new study, in some low-income countries, as many as 90% of dementia cases are thought to go undiagnosed, and thus untreated.
Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI) released the report, which suggests that most people currently living with dementia have not received a formal diagnosis. In high income countries, such as the United States, only 20 to 50% of dementia cases are recognized and documented in primary care. This ‘treatment gap' is certainly much greater in low and middle income countries. In fact, the study states that in India, 90% remain unidentified. If these statistics are extrapolated to other countries worldwide, it suggests that approximately 28 million of the 36 million people with dementia have not received a diagnosis, and therefore do not have access to treatment and care, according to the study.
ADI delivers a clear call to action to governments and people around the world: raise the rates of early diagnosis for Alzheimer's and you'll enhance the value and efficacy of treatment for the memory-draining disease.
The report, entitled "World Alzheimer Report 2011: The Benefits of Early Diagnosis and Intervention," encourages every nation to take a three-pronged approach to developing a countrywide Alzheimer's plan. These three prongs involve: educating people on the benefits of early diagnosis of Alzheimer's, including all the available treatment options; enhancing the set-up of medical systems and services, and investing in further Alzheimer's and dementia research.
According to the authors, the study's findings highlight the need for government intervention to stem the daunting tide of costs associated with increasing incidences of dementia. The report estimates that worldwide costs were $604 billion last year. These ‘societal' costs included the costs of unpaid care provided by family members, medical care, community services, residential care homes and nursing homes.