Dementia is an umbrella term for several diseases affecting memory, other cognitive abilities and behaviour that interfere significantly with a person’s ability to maintain their activities of daily living. Although age is the strongest known risk factor for dementia, it is not a normal part of ageing.
WHO is working very closely with Member States and other relevant stakeholders to improve the lives of people with dementia and their carers, while decreasing the impact of dementia on communities and countries.
Worldwide, around 50 million people have dementia, and there are nearly 10 million new cases every year. Two in three people with dementia live in low- and middle-income countries.
Dementia is one of the major causes of disability and dependency among older people worldwide. It can be overwhelming, not only for people who have dementia, but also for their carers and families, who globally provide the majority of care and support.There is often a lack of awareness and understanding of dementia, resulting in stigmatization and barriers to diagnosis and care. The impact of dementia on carers, family and society at large can be physical, psychological, social and economic.
WHO recognizes dementia as a public health priority. In May 2017, the World Health Assembly endorsed the Global action plan on the public health response to dementia 2017-2025. The global action plan aims to improve the lives of people with dementia, their families and carers, while decreasing the impact of dementia on communities and countries.
It provides a comprehensive blueprint for action across seven areas: (1) making dementia a public health priority, (2) increasing dementia awareness, inclusion and friendliness; (3) reducing the risk of dementia; (4) improving diagnosis, treatment and care; (5) supporting dementia carers, (6) enhancing health information systems for dementia and (7) fostering research and innovation.