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Number of people with memory disorder on rise in Finland: THL

Published : 07 Mar 2024, 01:24

  DF Report
Pixabay File Photo.

Diagnoses for memory disorders each year are significantly more common than previously estimated, according to a new research results based on national register data.

The new study showed that about 23,000 people get diagnosed with a memory disorder in Finland every year, said the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) in a press release on Wednesday.

It has previously been estimated that there would be around 14,500 memory disorder patients annually.

In 2021, about 151,000 Finns had a diagnosed memory disorder. Most of them were aged 85 or over.

"When examining the results, it should be noted that the register data only covers the diseases diagnosed, and thus probably underestimate the actual number of people with memory disorders," said Hanna-Maria Roitto, Medical Specialist at the THL.

In 2040, there will be as many as 247,000 people with memory disorders, if the prevalence of memory disorders remains at the level of 2021 and the number of older people increases in accordance with Statistics Finland's population forecast.

According to this estimate, the number of people with memory disorders will increase by 64 per cent over the next few decades.

"The increase in the total number of people with memory disorders in Finland is due to the ageing population," Roitto said.

Previous estimates of the prevalence of memory disorders in Finland have been based on European population studies and Finnish studies from the 1980s and 1990s. In the new study, the number of patients with memory disorders was examined based on the nationwide health and social care registers (Hilmo) and the registers of medicine purchases reimbursed by Kela health insurance.

There are significant differences between wellbeing services counties in the number of people with memory disorders. The greatest morbidity level are found in Kainuu (5,368/100,000 inhabitants) and Kymenlaakso (5,170/100,000), and the lowest in Åland (1,414/100,000).

"More memory disorders are detected in areas where the population is older. However, the demographic structure alone does not explain the differences. The figures may be influenced by regional resources and treatment practices as well as the prevalence of risk factors for memory disorders in the area", said Roitto.

Up-to-date knowledge of the number of people with memory disorders is important for developing measures that promote wellbeing and health.

"Memory disorders and symptoms related to them are common among older people who receive regular services, and they lead to many difficulties in everyday activities," Roitto added.