We use cookies to give you a better experience. Carry on browsing if you're happy with this, or read our cookies policy for more information.

Skip main navigation

Dementia: A global challenge and personal reality

Ihe impact of dementia is commonly described with metaphors.
Welcome to our course. I’m Lynne Corner from Newcastle University, and I’ll be guiding you through it. When we think about dementia, we think about memory. We think about our ability to plan, to make decisions, to find the right words, and how we interpret our senses.
Every four seconds, or the time it takes me to breathe in and out or blink, another person somewhere will be diagnosed with dementia.
There are 46 million people living with dementia across the globe; that’s over 7 million new cases every year. People are living longer, which of course is a really positive change. But for some, this means living longer with dementia. The worldwide costs of dementia are huge. Some estimates suggest $818 billion. The prevalence of dementia in developing countries is increasing faster than higher-income countries. So the global challenge of finding ways to live well with dementia has never been more important. Though most of the people living with dementia live in developing countries, most of the costs of dementia occur in Western Europe and North America, mainly due to expensive medical and social care costs.
So dementia is an important global challenge, because of its scale, in terms of the growing number of people affected and the huge costs involved. If dementia was an economy, it would be bigger or on par with companies such as Apple and Google. And this is a very useful comparison, because there has never been a more urgent time to develop innovative solutions and ideas to help people connect and communicate with dementia, especially as people are working longer and many friends and family of people with dementia are living in different regions, even different countries. And so there’s an urgency to help people to connect and care.
Of course, the real cost of dementia is personal the nature of dementia as a progressive condition means that it can become increasingly difficult to communicate with the person with dementia. And inevitably, relationships change. In this course, we’ll be talking to experts in dementia who can help us to understand what is happening in the brain and what’s behind some of the more distressing symptoms. We’ll also be talking to experts in communication and speech and language, who will be sharing insights on what might work to help us to continue to communicate.
And, of course, we’ll be able to share together our ideas and insights as friends, family of people with dementia, and carers, so that we can learn together how we can continue to connect and live well with dementia.
The World Health Organisation has described dementia as ‘one of the major health challenges of our generation’.
We are facing a global challenge to find a cure, improve treatment, and ensure we have enough resources to enable people to live well with dementia.
An estimated 50 million people worldwide live with dementia, and as we are living in an ageing population, this is set to increase. China, India and South Asia are experiencing the biggest growth in the incidence of dementia. This has brought increasing awareness of dementia, but with it, depictions of the challenge as akin to a ‘silent tsunami’, ‘crisis’, or a ‘creeping shadow’.
As individuals, we may think about the challenge of dementia a little differently. Often, carers describe being on an uncertain journey, drifting, playing a waiting game, or losing connection, like sand running through the hands. So while carer descriptions may not be as negative or as fearful as the metaphors we might come across in newspapers or policy reports, there is an acknowledgement that life can become much more difficult for those who live with the condition.
In this course, we focus on the personal realities of dementia for those affected. We’ll be thinking about dementia’s effect upon the person, on our personal relationships and on the activities of daily living. Our aim is to share ideas and insights as family, friends and carers so that we can learn together how to connect and live well with dementia.

Mark as Complete

When you reach the end of a step, click the pink Mark as Complete button at the bottom. This will update your progress page, and will help you to keep track of which steps you’ve done. Any steps you’ve completed will turn blue on your To Do list.
The next step will take you to a short guide on how to use FutureLearn.
This article is from the free online

Dementia Care: Staying Connected and Living Well

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education