Dementia is a devastating condition for the people affected, their family and friends, and for health systems. The OECD has been working on how health systems need to be adapted to rise to the challenge; we look at ways to harness information technologies and big data to improve the prevention and treatment of the disease; and we examine the innovation model to mobilise the research and tools needed to address dementia. 

13 March 2015Better dementia care and a future cure require action today, says OECDThe current policy approach to tackling dementia is socially and economically unsustainable, according to a new OECD report. Countries need to take action now to improve the lives of people living with dementia and their carers, prioritise public research on dementia, and improve the incentives for private investment in dementia innovation.

addressing dementia

Addressing Dementia: The OECD Response

15 March 2015

The large and growing human and financial cost of dementia provides an imperative for policy action. It is already the second largest cause of disability for the over-70s and it costs $645bn per year globally, and ageing populations mean that these costs will grow. There is no cure or effective treatment for dementia, and too often people do not get appropriate health and care services, leading to a poor quality of life. Our failure to tackle these issues provides a compelling illustration of some of today’s most pressing policy challenges. We need to rethink our research an innovation model, since progress on dementia has stalled and investment is just a fraction of what it is for other diseases of similar importance and profile. But even then a cure will be decades away, so we need better policies to improve the lives of people living with dementia now. Communities need to adjust to become more accommodating of people with dementia and families who provide informal care must be better supported. Formal care services and care institutions need to promote dignity and independence, while coordination of health and care services must be improved. But there is hope: if we can harness big data we may be able to address the gaps in our knowledge around treatment and care.

First WHO Ministerial Conference on Global Action Against Dementia

Geneva, 16-17 March 2015
To analyse how systems and caring policies need to adapt, how to accelerate innovation in dementia care, how to prioritise dementia research investments, and the role that “big data” can play in improving dementia research and care, the World Health Organization and the OECD are leading a series of actions aimed at supporting national efforts to adapt health systems.


Policy implications

Care for Better Lives

Many people living with dementia do not receive a timely diagnosis and face poor quality of life, while carers are under huge strain. The OECD is working to support countries in implementing policies to improve the lives of people living with dementia.

Innovation for Improved Diagnostics and Therapies

How can innovation in science and technology be used as a tool to combat dementia? Finding a cure, preventive options, and effective diagnostics must be the long-term goal of global dementia policy.

Open Science and Data for Global Cooperation

Although there is a clear potential to improve science and innovation systems through big data and open science, barriers still remain. The OECD is working with policy makers, funding agencies and researchers to encourage open access to data, and develop good practice and principles on data governance.

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Contact: Mr. Tim Muir (

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Contact: Mr. Hermann Garden (

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Contact: Ms. Elettra Ronchi (


Featured publications

oecd publication on dementia 2015‌ 

Dementia Research and Care - Can Big Data Help?

February 2015

What potential does Big Data hold for finding new approaches to discovering a cure and disease-modifying therapies and to improve social care services for the growing number of people with dementia?

Government leadership and public-private partnerships will be needed to create and sustain big data resources. Key next steps are to create national infrastructures supporting “broad and deep” data; to develop international benchmarks to compare the performance of health systems; and to develop an international pilot project to demonstrate the benefits of linking broad and deep data to dementia research and care.


Unleashing the Power of Big Data for Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia Research

March 2014

Main Points of the OECD Expert Consultation on Unlocking Global Collaboration to Accelerate Innovation for Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia

A Good Life in Old Age?
Monitoring and Improving Quality in Long-term Care

A Good Life in Old Age?
Monitoring and Improving Quality in Long-term Care

June 2013

As ageing societies are pushing a growing number of frail old people into needing care, delivering quality long-term care services – care that is safe, effective, and responsive to needs – has become a priority for governments. Yet much still remains to be done to enhance evidence-based measurement and improvement of quality of long-term care services across EU and OECD countries. This book offers evidence and examples of useful experiences to help policy makers, providers and experts measure and improve the quality of long-term care services.

To access the complete library of OECD resources on dementia, including publications and freely available working and policy papers, click here


Global Action to Drive Innovation in Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias: Connecting Research, Regulation and Access 2015 Workshop
Lausanne, Switzerland, 15-16 December 2015

First WHO Ministerial Conference on Global Action Against Dementia 
Geneva, 16-17 March 2015

Enhancing Translational Research and Clinical Development in Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementia: The Way Forward Workshop
Lausanne, Switzerland, 11-12 November 2014

Global Dementia Legacy Event Japan - New Care & Prevention Models 
Tokyo, 5-7 November 2014
Addressing dementia research and care: Can big data help?
Toronto, 15 September 2014
G8 Global Action Against Dementia Summit
London, 11 December 2013

Unlocking Global Collaboration to Accelerate Innovation for Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia
Oxford, 20 June 2013

Further Reading

OECD Brings Alzheimer's and Dementia to Center Stage
Richard A. Johnson, CEO, Global Helix LLC, in Brain Trust magazine, December 2014 issue


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