UN Focuses on the Rights of Older Persons with Dementia

Dementia-imageOn July 30th, a conference was held at the UN to discuss the right of older persons with dementia to holistic care. To date, age is the main risk factor for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It is estimated that 1 in 9 persons aged 65 years old or above suffer from irreversible dementia. This number will double in the next 20 years. The current global cost of dementia is around USD 604 billion annually, which is 1% of the total global GDP.

Beginning the conference, the representative of Alzheimer’s Disease International highlighted the work of his organization, which supports action on the rights of older persons, particularly focusing on those with dementia. Next, Mr. Connor introduced the World Palliative Care Alliance, which aims at promoting universal access to affordable, quality palliative care through the support of regional and national hospices and palliative care organizations. The World Health Organization defined the term “palliative care” as the need for care in chronic, life-threatening, and life-limiting conditions. There is no time or prognostic limit on the delivery of palliative care. Furthermore, palliative care is not limited to one care setting.

Ms. Pettus then emphasized that more than 6 billion people worldwide do not have access to strong painkillers. Her job as the advocacy officer is to promote universal access of high-quality palliative care, integrated in a continuum of care with disease prevention and treatment in order to assure that no patient or family caregiver suffers unnecessarily. Mr. Caspi, who works as a nurse aide, is an advocate for older persons with dementia. He explained that there is an increase in dementia worldwide, yet those people suffering from dementia are unable to defend and advocate for themselves in relation to their personal care. This has led to unintentional abuses. He suggested a way to combat this is to educate dementia patient’s family members in understanding the social and physical aspects and of dementia.


Meeting Title: The Right of Older People to Holistic Palliative Care, Adequate Pain Management and Dementia Care and Support
Speakers: Representative of Alzheimer’s Disease International; Mr. Stephen R Connor, Senior Fellow to the “World Palliative Care Alliance” – London (WPCA); Ms. Katherine Irene Pettus, Advocacy Officer, Human Rights and Palliative Care, International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care; Mr. Eilon Caspi, Gerontologist & Dementia Behavior Specialist Providence ,VA Medical Center; Ms. Lia Daichman, Clinical Gerontologist, Buenos Aires, Ar.
Location: Conference Room A, United Nations Headquarters, New York
Date: 30 July 2014
Written By WIT Representative: Samantha Kong
Edited By: Marli Kasdan

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