(The spoken version shall take precedence)
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to be here today, at this occasion, the first Dementia Forum Executive. It is my sincere hope that this day has brought you inspiration and new awareness.
I wish to express my gratitude for joining me here today, taking the time to listen and contribute to the dialogue. It is my sincere hope that you have had the opportunity to learn something new and have been given the chance to discuss dementia from many different angles. More than anything I hope that you have seen an opportunity to make a difference on a greater scale. It is important to gather those who can make a difference in this field, regardless of whether they normally have a connection to dementia in their daily job or not. I am very pleased that we were able to welcome such a diverse group of people with the ability to make a difference.
The 20th century was the period of global population growth. The 21st century will be that of global population ageing, with the proportion of elderly above 60 years of age increasing to between 25% and 45% of the world’s population by the end of the century. Large numbers of old and very old patients suffer from multiple diseases and symptoms, and dementia and other ageing-related conditions have fast become some of the world’s biggest global health care challenges.
Dementia is clearly age-related and causes a lot of distress and pain for both the patient as well as their relatives. Today there are approximately forty million patients suffering from dementia worldwide. At its current rate of incidence, that number will be one hundred and thirty-five million, in 2050.
The challenge with the growing elderly population demands new ideas and solutions in the care of dementia patients. Ideas and solutions carried out by creative and committed people worldwide.
Since the founding of Stiftelsen Silviahemmet in 1995, we have tried to facilitate the development of a dementia-friendly society, as well as increasing the overall level of knowledge of dementia. The aim of Stiftelsen Silviahemmet is to develop and perform training and education in dementia care for employees in the care sector as well as relatives of patients, suffering from dementia.
20 years ago, diagnosing people with dementia and supplying caregivers with sufficient instructions guidance on caregiving were not always an integral part of the caregiving process.
Based on my personal experiences, as my own mother was diagnosed with dementia, I realized then that something needed to be done in the field and although there were many competent caregivers, not everyone really knew enough about dementia.
Due to this reason, we decided to assist in providing that knowledge – and we continue to do so today.
When we founded Silviahemmet, we began training nursing assistants in specialized care of those suffering from dementia. This expanded to what Silviahemmet has become today – a centre of excellence in the field of dementia care and education. We provide education here in Sweden, but also in 9 other countries around the world.
We strongly believe that with better knowledge of dementia, the caregiver will be able to provide better care. We also know that the more people that get the opportunity to take part in education, the quicker society and care will change. We want to be part of that change!
Tonight, almost 20 years after founding Stiftelsen Silviahemmet, one of my personal dreams will be fulfilled as 6 physicians complete their 2-year long specialist degrees in dementia care, the first to ever do so.
As a result of this unique cooperation with Sophiahemmet Högskola (University) and the Karolinska Institute we will be able to provide full caregiving teams with nursing assistants, nurses and doctors who are fully equipped to work with patients suffering from dementia. That is something I am personally, very proud of.
Earlier today we saw that the estimated cost of dementia to the global society is 604 billion dollars. This is a sum that is hard to grasp as it is. 202 billion of these are costs related to family caregiving. It is a fact that dementia patients are often cared for by family members in the home. Not seldom, these caregivers are women- women who are in many cases forced to leave the workforce and become full time caregivers. This not only puts a strain on the personal finances of the individual families but also poses a big problem for employers who lose valuable employees. In many cases caregivers also continue working and struggle to meet all the needs at work, at home and in the relationship to a loved one suffering from dementia.
There is much to be done here! It is essential for us who have the resources and information to provide employers with the tools to aid their employees in this aspect, and to see what a challenge this is - mind you, sometimes the need of a dementia patient is as great as that of a young child. This responsibility also lies with you, as employers, colleagues and friends, to act as a support system for those who are in need of it.
Technology can be of much help to those who care for dementia patients, it can also be a cheap and accessible source of support and information in parts of the world where access to specific information regarding dementia is scarce. An example of this is the free of charge smartphone-app, Dementia Support that we launched 18 months ago together with a group of partners. This app has been downloaded by thousands of people in over 100 countries. Currently we are also working on another app – Memory Box - that will serve as a tool for conversations and stimulate dialogue between carers and those with cognitive impairments.
We have some of the world’s most respected researchers in the field here today, and I want to take the opportunity to thank you for dedicating your time to this challenge. I would also like to ask those of you in the position to assist and support research in this field, to do so actively and vigorously.
I wish that twenty years from today, the global society has taken on this challenge and created a world where no one needs to die of dementia and those suffering will have the greatest care possible. This is my dream and my vision.
I would like to thank each and every one of you personally for your dedication, persistence and support in making every society, organisation and country that you represent a little bit more dementia friendly.
Thank you for your support and for being here today.