Long-term care is becoming primarily about dementia, report states

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The number of people with long-term care needs is set to triple by 2050, and dementia care will be increasingly at the forefront for providers, according to a new report from Alzheimer's Disease International.

“Long-term care for older people is, mainly, about care for people with dementia,” the report states. Already, about half of all older people who need care have some form of dementia, and 80% of older nursing home residents have dementia, according to “Journey of Caring: An analysis of long-term care for dementia.”

Governments must act now to address the growing need for dementia care, the report urges. This involves having “urgent national debates” around long-term care systems and supports, and evaluating how to monitor dementia care in both home and institutional settings.

The report, released yesterday, takes issue with whether home care is better. Current evidence suggests the “subjective quality of life” for those with dementia is about the same regardless of whether they are in a facility or at home, and facility-based care is likely better for those with advanced dementia, the report notes.

The costs of building out high-quality dementia care systems and the logistical challenges of improving care coordination are daunting, the report acknowledges. It stresses that changes are called for that involve all stakeholders, and says these should focus primarily on enhancing the quality of life for those with dementia.

In the United States, Alzheimer's research recently received an infusion of $45 million from the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Aging. Some of the funding will go toward a clinical trial testing an anti-amyloid drug on healthy seniors at risk of developing late-onset Alzheimer's. 

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