The national policy context across Europe
Introduction The growth in the prevalence of dementia over the last few years has been constant and steady, linked with demographic changes in the European population that show a rise in the number of elderly people. In Britain alone, estimates suggest that there are between 0.5 and 1 million people suffering from some form of dementia. There is also evidence to suggest that Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most com mon form of dementia and accounts for 50% of all classified cases. It is thought that 6.2% of the 1996 UK population aged 65+ will have some form of cognitive disability. Of these, 36% are estimated to be resi dent in institutional care, where they make up half of the residents. Data generated by the Eurodem Study reveal similar prevalence estimates for the rest of Europe.1 It is also clear from these figures that the preva lence of both dementia and cognitive impairment increases dramatically with age.