On 21 April 2022, the Global Ageing Network hosted a webinar that focused care models and strategies to improve dementia care. The webinar was designed to share what advocates and stakeholders have and continue to learn about effective care and support for those living with dementia and their caregivers. As our speakers have clearly described, the solutions for addressing the needs of a growing population of people living with dementia are complex. They are multi-faceted and interdisciplinary.
The dementia care models described by Diane Ty, director for the Alliance to Improve Dementia Care at the Milken Institute Center for Future Aging, give us a helpful roadmap. The Alliance to Improve Dementia Care explored the ways to improve pay for comprehensive dementia care. Projections about the increasing prevalence of dementia around the world, exacerbated by setbacks in diagnosis and treatment that resulted from the pandemic, underscore the importance of increasing our understanding and working together for collective action.
Fiona Carragher, Director of Research and Influencing at the Alzheimer’s Society, suggested that an integrated approach including health care, social services, families and staff training among other dimensions, is the optimal path forward. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted many hidden issues for older people, including social isolation, access to quality of care, accurate diagnosis, to name a few. A biopsychosocial model would align with the comprehensive needs and would provide those living with dementia the opportunity to live a life that they want to live. Further, dementia care should be used as a “bullwhacker” to measure success among all aged care services. If we can create an integrated, seamless approach to dementia care, we can transform the dementia care.
The Roadmap for Investment in Dementia Care, created by the Milken Institute and the Alzheimer’s Society, offers five opportunity areas where the government, philanthropic, and private capital can improve the quality of life for people living with dementia and their caregivers.
Technology, as described by Lydia Nguyen, PhD, the lead researcher at iN2L, can be an important lever and enabler. She serves as the lead for PROJECT VITAL (Virtual Technology for All), which launched in 2020. Over 300 senior living communities received tablets, two per community, and residents reported reduced feelings of loneliness, social isolation, and improved mood. She suggested that technology should be used to support executive teams, provide training to staff, and should be easy to incorporate and use. Technology should be used as a supplement, not as a replacement for human interaction.
At the end of the day, we need action by governments and a commitment and an investment to support the millions of older adults and their families who are – or will be – living with dementia.
With gratitude to our speakers Diane Ty, Fiona Carragher, Lydia Nguyen for meaningful discussion, and to our sponsor, iN2L. Please join us on 11 May 2022 for our next webinar.