Health policies and data

Dementia and Care


Dementia is a debilitating condition for which there is currently no cure. An estimated 44 million people are living with dementia worldwide and health systems and social services often fail to provide adequate support. Many people living with dementia do not receive a timely diagnosis and face poor quality of life and loss of independence, while the families and carers who support them are under huge strain, suffer ill-health and are unable to work.

There is a need for urgent action and the OECD is working to support countries in developing and implementing better policies that can improve the lives of people living with dementia.


Dementia and Care - Resources

addressing dementia

Addressing Dementia: the OECD Response

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.


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.


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.

World Dementia Council
The World Dementia Council was established following the December 2013 G8 Summit on Dementia. It aims to provide global leadership in improving the conditions for research and innovation in dementia treatments; and in improving dementia prevention and care. The OECD hosted the second meeting of the World Dementia Council in Paris on 23 July 2014, and continues to play and important role in the Council’s work.

Health at a Glance 2013: OECD Indicators
November 2013 - Our flagship statistical publication includes a special chapter on long-term care, including dementia.

Health policies and data
June 2011 - As life expectancy pushes into the late 70s for men and well into the 80s for women, ever more people want help in order to be able to live their lives to the full for as long as possible. How will demographic and labour market trends affect the supply of family and friends available to care for us? Can we rely on family carers as the sole source of support for frail seniors? Should family carers and friends be better supported, and if so how? Can we attract and retain care workers -- is it just a matter of paying them better? Will public finances be threatened by the cost of providing care in the future? What should be the balance between private responsibility and public support in care-giving? Can we reduce costs by improving efficiency of long-term care services?

Dementia Care in 9 OECD Countries - A Comparative Analysis
July 2004 - This paper provides a comparative analysis of dementia care in 9 countries, with a particular focus on Alzheimer’s disease. The purpose is to provide health policymakers with a better understanding of the variations in approaches to treating dementia that exist among OECD countries to help them better formulate health policies for treating dementia.

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

Dementia and Care - Updates and Events


For any queries about the Dementia and Care, please write to Mr. Tim Muir (

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For general OECD work on dementia click here

For work on dementia and big data click here

For work on dementia and innovation click here

For general OECD work on health click here


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