Dementia and emergencies

Dementia and emergencies

People living with dementia are being ignored in humanitarian emergencies.

In May 2019 we launched our report Forgotten in a crisis: Addressing dementia in humanitarian response’.

One in every 70 people around the world is impacted by crisis and urgently needs humanitarian assistance and protection. Yet, people with a so-called ‘hidden’ disability like dementia can be left behind in receiving humanitarian assistance and protection if those responding do not ’see’ their condition.

While there are guidelines in place to mandate inclusive support for people at-risk, they are rarely being implemented for people with dementia and do not currently go far enough to meet their needs.

“Despite being some of the most at-risk in times of natural disaster, conflict and forced migration, we have found that people with dementia are systemically overlooked, due to a lack of global awareness of the condition and associated stigma. Our findings reflect a wider issue of a lack of support for older people with disabilities in humanitarian response.” Amy Little GADAA Executive Lead

The Global Alzheimer’s & Dementia Action Alliance, Alzheimer’s Disease International and Alzheimer’s Pakistan have worked in partnership, investigating ways humanitarian emergency responses can protect and support people living with dementia.

“There are 50 million people living with dementia globally, 60 per cent in low and middle income countries where diagnosis is low and humanitarian emergencies are widespread. These people are currently ignored in emergency response planning. We are calling on all agencies to increase awareness and to adapt strategies, to better recognise the needs of this often hidden group.”  Paola Barbarino – CEO, Alzheimer’s Disease International

Our report calls on governments and humanitarian actors to recognise the unique needs of people with dementia, before, during and after emergencies – something that has so far not been addressed.

Humanitarian actors must provide assistance in accordance with the principles of humanity, neutrality and impartiality. Every time a person is denied assistance or protection during an emergency response because of their dementia status, governments and humanitarian actors are ignoring their obligation to operate without prejudice.

Through collaboration we can ensure that no one with dementia is left behind in an emergency because of their medical condition, age or disability. 

Alzheimer’s Disease International are continuing this work, for more information please contact: