Several weeks ago, in early December 2013, health leaders from the Group of Eight (G8) met in London, pledging to cure or modify the course of dementia by 2025.
This bold declaration is one that the Parkinson’s community is monitoring in light of the fact that about a quarter of people with PD are currently living with dementia.
What Should You Know?
- Dementia describes a range of symptoms related to memory decline. While Alzheimer’s disease makes up the majority of cases of dementia, there are several kinds, including Parkinson’s disease-dementia (PD-D).
- PD-D usually begins with mild impairment. In fact, up to 70 percent of people with PD will experience mild cognitive impairment.
- For some, mild impairment will progress to PD-D, which is a severe loss of abilities that interferes with daily living.
- The only drug available to treat PD-D is rivastigmine tartrate (Exelon®), which is borrowed from the Alzheimer’s community. It provides symptomatic relief, but does not slow down or prevent dementia.
- The symptoms of PD-D are not identical to other dementias, such as Alzheimer’s.
What Does the G8 Summit Promise?
While the international focus on dementia seems like a good step forward for science and new treatments, what does it promise to do? Within the full declaration, which can be viewed in full here, the group lays out a plan to:
- Develop an international action plan for dementia-related research – with group members promising to work together to identify priorities and gaps in science and then, to fund them.
- Share scientific discoveries and data.
- Request that international agencies, such as the World Health Organization, identify dementia as a threat, and support nations in improving care and services.
- Ensure dignity and respect for people with dementia and efforts by all to “enhance their contribution to dementia prevention, care and treatment where they can.”
What Does It Mean for Parkinson’s?
PDF friend Steve Ford, Chief Executive of Parkinson’s UK, attended the summit and shared with us his thoughts,
“Many people diagnosed with Parkinson’s will go on to develop dementia, and we need to heighten awareness of the importance of funding research which can improve the lives of all people living with Parkinson’s.
“Having Parkinson’s and dementia is a terrible double blow. When I attended the G8 dementia summit in London last December, I was encouraged by what I heard regarding the need to commit to more funding for dementia research, including those with Parkinson’s specific dementia, by Government. Also crucial is increased collaborative research across the world to combat the health problems that face aging populations.”
In addition, we know that in the US just last year, the Obama administration announced a national plan to prevent and treat the most common dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, by 2025. We know that immediately following the G8 Dementia Summit, Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron promised to double the nation’s financial commitment to dementia research by 2025, while our friends at Parkinson’s UK announced a new grant for studying Parkinson’s and dementia.
The group will meet again in February 2015 and we’ll keep you updated as their work continues. In the meantime, share your thoughts and questions below and get the facts you need about Parkinson’s disease-dementia by contacting us at (800) 457-6676 or firstname.lastname@example.org or using our free resources below.