The dementia problem
It is estimated that 135 million people worldwide will have dementia by 2050.
This presents a great personal and financial cost to society, and with no existing cure there is a need to find ways to support a person’s dignity and extend their ability to live independently.
Dementia places a burden not just on the healthcare system but on individuals, families and networks of care. According to the Alzheimer’s Society UK 820,000 people in the UK suffer from dementia and 25 million have a close friend or family member with the condition. It is predicted that by 2050 135 million people globally will have the disease. Furthermore, social care costs for the elderly are growing and placing a greater burden on individuals, families and the healthcare system. With a growing global financial and social cost, an integrated care solution is required.
If a condition-altering treatment were developed that slowed symptoms, but did not reverse them, this could result in more people living longer with dementia.
Current assistive technology products involve devices that address specific needs, such as wayfinding, social interaction (e.g. Japan’s Paro Therapeutic robot), memory, or health management. Some robotics projects begin to integrate these domains, but they are still at early stages. Equally, social networks exist to support care systems, but these operate separately from other assistive technologies for dementia. An integrated system is required.