The most cost-effective improvement that can be made to the global dementia healthcare system is to improve free online education modules for dementia caregivers.
Online caregiver and patient education is effectively free. Educational modules developed in countries leading the world in dementia care such as the UK, may be placed online and available to the rest of the English-speaking world within a day and available in translations and culturally-appropriate versions shortly after. No printing costs, no freight bills, and instant updates regularly.
Virtually all dementia caregiving is done without compensation by highly motivated family members who themselves have jobs, families, and other issues to attend to. Better caregiver education can hopefully make family caregiving more efficient and effective at least partially easing some of the huge burden of being a caretaker. Many people with dementia can, at least in the early stages of the disease, also be more independent with the support of appropriate training. Care can improve by supporting family caregivers and persons with dementia expanding their own self-care.
Unfortunately, existing materials on the Internet @#$%. These need to be overhauled now and updated frequently. Training dementia caregivers in basic principles and skills must be made more problem-solution based with caregivers trained to recognize specific problems and provide appropriate and effective interventions (including immediately moving the person with dementia into emergency medical care when needed). I find it interesting that there are thousands of books and websites on how to recognize and intervene in thousands of specific conditions with infants and young children but virtually no usable information online on to intervene when specific problems occur in people with dementia. A small amount of money (in the tens of millions of dollars or euros, not billions) could immediately upgrade the skills of literally millions of caregivers.
A word of caution. If a funding agency wants to get useful very specific and concrete educational materials for caregivers developed, do not make grants to a bunch of academic medical centers and academic research faculty. One reason the online educational models for dementia caregiving are so poor is that they are developed by academic medical faculty and the materials are usually not concretely clinical enough. Either get the materials developed in community medical and social care clinics, or make the grants to Schools of Nursing and Social Work where practical clinical tools for the community are valued and developed.
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