A basket of soft balls used to help people suffering from dementia, at a residence in a Stockholm suburb. File photo: KARIN MALMHAV / TT
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A basket of soft balls used to help people suffering from dementia, at a residence in a Stockholm suburb. File photo: KARIN MALMHAV / TT
Professor Bengt Winblad och kronprinsessan Victoria.
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Professor Bengt Winblad pictured with Crown Princess Victoria at a brain fund event. File photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT.

Rise in dementia patients "a threat" to health care

"The cost for dementia disorders is bigger than the cost for cancer, cardiovascular and stroke put together"
2:11 min

A Swedish-led international research group warned in the medical journal, The Lancet Neurology on Tuesday, that a steady rise in the number of people suffering from dementia can lead to chaos in the health care sector.

The result is being presented to the EU Parliament in Brussels today, and it is clear that the authors feel that action is needed, in a hurry.

"If we don't do anything about this, health care will collapse in many European Countries," Professor Bengt Winblad, who led the group, and who works at the Karolinksa Institute's Division of Neurogeriatrics, told Swedish Radio News.

By the year 2050, the number of people suffering from Alzheimers or another form of dementia is predicted to be 131 million, almost triple what it is today.

Winblad said that as the elderly population grows, the number of people with dementia will inevitably increase. Winblad and his team are proposing a coordinated European plan and a national plan for how to cope with this development over the next decade. Winblad's group has suggested a comprehensive push that would aim to improve laboratory and clinical research, as well as research in care and health care. One suggestion is that authorities in European countries work with pharmaceutical countries to share resources and cut down on the economic risks of research.

Winblad has led a commission with experts from about 10 countries, who wrote the 78-page-long report, entitled "Defeating Alzheimer's disease and other dementias:

"Now, the politicians need to wake up," says Winblad, "so that the research in medicine, forms of health care, and preventative factors can be improved."

Today, an estimated 47 million people suffer from dementia, and that number will increase, as life expectancy does.

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