Opinion: Dementia

POSTED: 06/27/14 2:17 AM

Just a bit more than fifteen years from now, in 2030, dementia will have become the number one cause of death in the Netherlands, the National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM) writes in an exploration of the future of public health. The actual cause of death will be for instance pneumonia or the consequences of a fall. Because people suffering from dementia have a weaker system, these ailments result quicker in death.

The reason why dementia will become the cause of death more frequently is that people live longer. During the past ten years life expectancy has increased by more than 3 years and this number will keep going up, the RIVM thinks. For men the average life expectancy in the Netherlands is 79 years, and for women 83. Between now and 2030 life expectancy increased by 3 years for men (to 82) and for women with 2 years (to 85).

Currently lung cancer and coronary heart diseases are the most important causes of death. Coronary heart diseases are caused by aberrations in the coronary artery.

Death due to infection diseases is currently low in the Netherlands. The RIVM has no clear idea about future developments in this area, because it is quite possible that a new infection disease will surface. More bacteria are resistant against antibiotics but at the same time, the industry is developing few new antibiotics.

The RIVM projection is something to reckon with in St. Maarten as well. As people get older, dementia will occur more frequently. This will without any doubt put pressure on the healthcare system, but also on caregivers who take care of their elderly at home. At the speed legislation comes about in St. Maarten – if speed is the correct word at all – it seems that, for a pro-active approach, the public health ministry has to begin like right now with the development of plans for dealing with this situation.

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