Chapter 1: Introduction

In the next ten years, there will be over 7.1 million Americans diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease; a jump of 40% from the current 5.1 million living with this illness. By 2050 this number will triple. As North America and the rest of the developed world continues to age, we will continue to see a proportional increase in dementia/NCD diagnoses.

The weight of this rapidly growing patient population is abysmal. These trends are impacting the direct and indirect costs associated with dementia/NCD care, with both rising proportionately. Besides the financial strain, there is incredible stress on both the care partners and patients with dementia/NCD. As the disease progresses, behavioral and psychological symptoms will begin to emerge and become overwhelming for the patient, family, and care providers. The current pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions used to address these symptoms have been found largely ineffective or too expensive to sustain as a long-term treatment; further adding to the frustration and stress.

Understanding the meaning of behaviors is being proposed as the essential step towards making substantive progress in the pharmacological and behavioral intervention of behaviors in dementia/NCD. By understanding why these behaviors are occurring and what factors are in play, we can shape interventions that are appropriate and sustainable for the patient.

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