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News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Tues. Jan. 25, 2023: Despite recent statistics showing that dementia prevalence is set to increase in the Caribbean by 155 per cent by 2050, regional progress in tackling the neurodegenerative condition is far too slow. The latest estimates show that there will be over 740,000 people living with dementia in the Caribbean by 2050. 

That’s the word from the Alzheimer’s Disease International, (ADI), the global federation for 105 Alzheimer’s and dementia associations across the world.

Research has found that the greatest risk factors for dementia in the Caribbean include Cardiovascular health, diabetes, family history, older age, education. Further, women with lower levels of education in rural areas are overrepresented in dementia statistics in the Caribbean. 

Daisy Acosta, co-founder of The Asociacion Domincana de Alzheimer and former Chair of ADI, says that the issue of dementia in the Caribbean is growing. 

“Dementia is a real problem in our Caribbean countries. By 2050 almost 750,000 people will be living with dementia in region,” Acosta said. “Governments are not paying enough attention to because it is often still wrongly considered a normal part of ageing. Well IT IS NOT! Key policies can be taken that can help delay or reduce up to 40 per cent of the number of cases of dementia in the future. I urge our governments to invest now to save later!”

The ADI is calling for the public across the Caribbean to urge their governments to take urgent action on dementia. 

Only 16 per cent of Caribbean countries and territories have made progress in developing a National Dementia Plan, most of which have inadequate funding.  While a few countries in the region, like the Dominican Republic and Cuba have implemented National Dementia Plans, unfortunately most are without adequate funding.

Paola Barbarino, ADI’s CEO, says developing, funding, and implementing National Dementia Plans is essential to improving health outcomes for people living in the Caribbean with dementia.

“A National Dementia Plan is a vital step in helping those living with dementia to have access to the support and services they need to live well, for longer,” says Barbarino. “Access to support and a care plan, including care at home and in community settings, at-home adaptations, and respite for carers, alongside medical treatments, are vital for people living with dementia, as well as their carers and family.”

“By denying Caribbeans across the region this support, governments are doing a disservice to their communities,” added Barbarino. “All people living with dementia in the Caribbean deserve access to the kinds of support and services a National Dementia Plan makes available. It’s their human right.”

ADI has teamed up with Alzheimer’s associations in Bahamas, Barbados, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Jamaica, Grenada, Puerto Rico, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sint Maarten, St Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago to launch a regional campaign ‘What’s Your Plan’ (#WhatsYourPlan)

But the Caribbean ADI members participating in the #WhatsYourPlan campaign are yet to have any fully funded, implemented National Dementia Plan in their countries. 

ADI is calling on people living in Caribbean countries participating in the #WhatsYourPlan campaign to urge their governments to develop a National Dementia Plan that features, improvements in care for those living with dementia, support for carers and to implement key policies to help delay or reduce up to 40 percent of the possible number of cases of dementia in the future. 

Risk reduction should be designed with a life-course approach in mind, targeting both older and younger populations, with a focus on the modifiable 12 risk factors estimated to contribute to 40 percent of the cases of those living with dementia. 

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