DAI Observes the International Day of People with Disability 2022, December 3rd 2022
By Kate Swaffer, DAI co-founder
Each year, DAI observes the International Day of People with Disability #IDPwD which is held annually on 3 December and is a United Nations observance day aimed at increasing public awareness, understanding and acceptance of all people with any type of disability.
The theme this year is Transformative solutions for inclusive development: the role of innovation in fueling an accessible and equitable world.
Our #IDPwD 2021 blog highlighted the importance of including disability assessment and support for people with dementia in all post diagnostic pathways. This year, we want to highlight the global data, and the increasing need for all types of disabilities to be recognised and supported and invite you to join our Environmental Design Special Interest Group, which focuses on issues such as innovation and accessible design.
Globally, the World Health Organisation (WHO) states there are more than 1 billion people live with some form of disability, which corresponds to about 15% of the world's population, with up to 190 million (3.8%) people aged 15 years and older having significant difficulties in functioning, often requiring health care services.
Disability refers to the interaction between individuals with a health condition (e.g., cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, dementia, depression, and so on) and personal and environmental factors The negative attitudes, and inaccessible transportation and public buildings, and limited social supports mean increased isolation, and decreased access to health care and disability support.
This includes the estimate of more than 57 million people living with dementia globally.
The number of people with disability are dramatically increasing, due to demographic trends and increases in chronic health conditions, among other causes, and due to a rise in chronic health conditions and to an ageing population.
The Who also state that the disability associated with dementia is a key driver of costs related to the condition, and in 2019, the global cost of dementia was estimated to be US$ 1.3 trillion. Dementia is the also the second leading cause of death in Australia of men, and the leading cause of death of women and predicted to soon become the leading cause of death in Australia of men and women, and is currently the seventh leading cause of death among all diseases and one of the major causes of disability and dependency among older people globally.
Chronic health conditions such as dementia are an ongoing cause of substantial ill health, significant disability, and sometimes premature death. This makes them an important global, national, and individual health concern. Non-communicable diseases or long-term chronic health conditions such as dementia and diabetes, are generally characterised by their long-lasting and persistent effects, and life-long disabilities, hence need for long-term management by individuals and health professionals. Whilst not usually immediately life-threatening they tend to develop gradually, becoming more common with age.
It also makes them a major disability rights issue, as currently, very few health care professionals or service providers support the symptoms of chronic health conditions such as dementia, as disabilities beyond the activities of daily living (ADLs). Most people want and have a right to support to do much more than get dressed and make a cup of tea!
Most people are likely to experience some form of disability, either temporary or permanent at some point in their life. As with non-disabled people, they therefore must have the same human rights and access to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD), and Disability Discrimination acts, as all others.
Members of DAI, who are all people diagnosed with varying types or causes of dementia confirm that when they are diagnosed, they do not receive equal access to health care, including rehabilitation, and they often experience stigma and discrimination, and receive poor quality services.
The Alzheimer’s Disease International 2021 and 2022 World Alzheimer’s Reports both confirm this, and there is an urgent need to upscale disability inclusion in all levels of the health systems, particularly primary health care.
The number of people experiencing disability is increasing due to a rise in chronic health conditions and population ageing. Disability is a human rights issue, and people with disability are subjected to multiple violations of their rights, including acts of violence, abuse, prejudice, and disrespect because of their disability, which intersects with other forms of discrimination based on age and gender, among other factors.
People with disability also face barriers, stigmatization and discrimination when accessing health and health-related services and strategies. Disability must also be a development priority because of its higher prevalence in lower-income countries and because disability and poverty reinforce and perpetuate each another
We know people with disabilities due to dementia face major barriers to health care and independence, due to attitudinal barriers such as stigma and discrimination, health care professionals and service providers having limited or no knowledge of how to support disabilities, beyond wheelchair ramps, hearing loops and white canes!
People with dementia face many barriers, including physical barriers such as distance from services, which has increased due to Covid, and a lack of environmental design made available to them, which denies us equal access to our communities. If this is something you would like to work with DAI to improve, please contact us here to learn more about our Environmental Design Special Interest Group.
Disability is extremely diverse.
We need everyone to get involved in ensuring the rights of person with disabilities, including those rights that all people living with disabilities due to any type of dementia must have equal access to.
o Learn more about DAI here.
o If you live with dementia or know someone with dementia, they can join for free here.
o Support people with dementia here.