Health Minister James Reilly has warned that cases of dementia in Ireland are set to triple over the next 30 years.
The Fine Gael minister has claimed that dementia patients will be a ‘huge burden’ on the state going forward with a long-term care strategy.
A new report on dementia states that more than 41,000 people in Ireland currently suffer with dementia and cost the exchequer over $2.5billion in care over year.
The number of cases is set to rise to 147,000 by the year 2041.
The Irish Times says that the new report on dementia in Ireland suggests ‘diagnosis of the condition is the exception rather than the rule for those at home’.
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The report states that 41,700 have the disease based on the prevalence in other countries with 26,104 sufferers cared for in their own homes.
The new report outlines that an estimated 50,000 family carers in Ireland look after someone with at least one of the six specified symptoms of dementia while two-thirds of all nursing home residents suffer from dementia.
The report will form the basis of the Government’s national strategy on dementia.
It states: “Most of those who remain at home are not aware that they have the disease and few are likely to be in contact with the health and social care systems.
“Only a small proportion of people with dementia are receiving critical services such as daycare, public health nursing, homecare packages and respite.”
Speaking at a conference on dementia in Trinity College Dublin’s Science Gallery, Minister Reilly said:
“A better diagnosis of dementia has to be a priority and there may need to be a public awareness campaign.
“Early intervention and diagnosis would give dementia sufferers the best quality of life possible. Evidence shows that properly funded homecare is a preferable option to nursing home care. Dementia is a tragedy for families.”
Minister Reilly also spoke of colleague Michael Noonan’s experiences. The Minister for Finance’s wife, Flor has Alzheimer’s as he discussed in a TV interview last year.
“Watching him I was struck by how often he spoke about his failures,” added Minister Reilly. “He said he didn’t make decisions as quickly as he should have done.
“I suspect many families in similar situations found themselves nodding as he talked. One of the cruelties of Alzheimer’s is its unpredictability.”
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