Dementia and Denmark’s 2015 election

Today, June 18, 2015, is election day in Denmark. Citizens around the country are coming out to vote today. While I am not a citizen so cannot vote in the large elections, I am excited to say that no matter which party wins the election, dementia is already earmarked to get more funding and attention 🙂

The article below comes from the Danish news sources DR and Dagbladet. I have made the translation to English and slightly edited the content for more context. Plus added some opinions 😉

Du må også læse denne indlæg på dansk her.

Thorning and Løkke will strengthen the plan for people with dementia

Both main candidates are ready to put money towards helping people with dementia, writes Politiken.

Ældre dement

Both Helle Thorning-Schmidt and Lars Løkke Rasmussen promise more money for people with dementia in today’s politics. © Colourbox

Whatever the outcome of the election, people with dementia and their relatives can look forward to more focus on the growing disease, writes Politiken (a Danish news source) this past Monday. In the article, two almost identical policy proposals are presented from the Liberal Party and from the Social Democrats and the Radicals, both of which will improve the response to the disease.

Over 90,000 people are currently living with dementia in Denmark, and the number is expected to grow rapidly as 134,000 are projected to be afflicted with dementia in 2030.

Dementia is a widespread disease

In a joint initiative, the Social Democrats and the Radicals want to propose a new long-term strategy on dementia, while the Liberals want a new action plan for dementia.

You can read more about Denmark’s National Dementia Strategy from 2011-2014 in my post here and the Dementia Alliance’s recommendations for 2015-2025 – in Danish – here.

Dementia is a major widespread disease and surely a bit overlooked,

says Liberal Party chairman Lars Løkke Rasmussen to Politiken. He believes that the rapid growth in the number of dementia diagnoses calls for action.

I know from people I talk to, dementia, and to be relatives of a person with dementia, is a huge challenge. Many are powerless. Therefore, we will strengthen efforts, he said.

Shortly after the Liberal Party’s proposals, Politiken had contact with the Social Democrats, who returned with the message that the party, together with the Radicals, are ready with a joint proposal on a long-term strategy.

It is a terrible disease,

says (current) Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt (Social Democrat), who presents the proposal along with Economic and Interior Minister  Morten Østergaard (Radical).

Wow, really? This is all they have to say about dementia? I must say, that’s a huge disappointment.

From Dagbladet (Danish news source)

Løkke and Thorning agree about more money for people with dementia

The Liberal Party’s action aims at creating better equipped staff, better support for caregivers, increased diffusion of new welfare technology, more dementia housing, and a more streamlined system with one ministry responsible instead of three, which today share the responsibility for the area. It is not clear how much money the party will set aside for the area, but the party has already set aside 16 billion kroner (around $2.45 billion USD) for the elderly and health until 2020.

The Social Democrats and the Radicals will first map the social, health, and housing challenges in the area. In addition, the parties’ strategy has five broad areas of focus: respite and relief for the relatives, arrangement of housing for people with dementia, competency development in home care and assisted living and nursing care facilities, an overhaul of the rules for appointment of a guardian, and expedited treatment in hospitals and clinics for patients with dementia. These current government parties will prioritize 400 million kroner (around $61.15 million USD) to dementia between 2016 and 2019 through the allocation of grants.

*****

Broken down, the current government (Social Democrat and Radical) has already allocated over 120 million kroner in grant money in 2015-2018 for initiatives targeted towards dementia. It has also set aside 70 million kroner in 2016, 90 million kroner in 2017, and 120 million kroner annually in 2018 and 2019 for follow up on the strategy. Furthermore, in their entire Elderly policy, they have set aside 60 million kroner to have fixed doctors in nursing and care homes, 300 million for strengthening efforts to combat loneliness among the aged, and 190 million towards better food for the aged. That’s a grand total of 950 million kroner that has already been designated towards bettering the lives and care of the elderly between 2016-2019. You can read their strategy – in Danish – here.

While I, personally, think Lars Løkke is speaking of dementia more as an election strategy (I am not a fan of his and since it’s my blog, I feel like I can say that), it is great that the Liberals are setting aside so much money for dementia care, education, and research. HOWEVER, if you read their elderly and health policy plan that is available on their website (detailed here, in Danish), that 16 billion kroner is for the whole kitty, of which, they only mention as #6 of their 7 priorities:

Greater focus on dementia and chronic illnesses:  We will make higher quality in the care for the chronically ill patients by offering a more goal-oriented, systematic, and consistent action. At the same time, we need to detect and diagnose dementias quicker.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that all the 16 billion is going towards dementia – I am expecting that more money will still go towards cancer, heart, and lung diseases than dementias, as happens globally.

Compared to the 30.6 million danish kroner ($4.7 million USD) allocated to the National Dementia Plan from 2011-2014 (the results of which, we really don’t know), more money definitely needs to be set aside for dementia. And it’s definitely a good thing that the Social Democrats and Radicals already have money set aside for evaluation/follow-up of their efforts!

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