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Dementia: Targeted Prevention is a good investment


Scientists at IMC Krems and the University for Continuing Education Krems prove the economic benefits of targeted prevention of dementia in at-risk groups

Krems, Austria, 27. June, 2024: Measures to prevent dementia in at-risk groups can not only improve quality of life, but also make a lot of economic sense. This is the key finding of a recently published analysis by IMC Krems University of Applied Sciences in collaboration with the University of Continuing Education Krems. It shows that early prevention for particularly vulnerable groups of people is relatively inexpensive and could significantly reduce the costs of the healthcare system for treatment and care. Further findings show that even broad-based prevention measures can save costs in well-defined risk groups and that measures in middle age groups are cost-effective if lifestyle-related risk factors are addressed.

95% of the general population are afraid of developing dementia. Dementia cannot be cured, which makes good treatment, support and care for those affected all the more important. However, this is cost-intensive and poses growing challenges for the healthcare system worldwide – especially in view of the ever-increasing proportion of older people in the overall population. Although dementia cannot be cured, there is well-documented evidence that prevention works. International studies show that lifestyle-related diseases, such as diabetes or coronary heart disease, promote dementia. According to scientific studies, lifestyle changes can prevent at least 40% of dementia. However, prevention also costs money and requires some effort.  Do the costs of such preventive measures ultimately perhaps even exceed the costs saved by avoiding dementia? A team from IMC Krems and the University for Continuing Education Krems (UWK) has now addressed precisely this question – and provided a clear answer.

Clear Effect

"Our analysis clearly shows," says Prof. Alexander Braun from the Institute of Health Management at IMC Krems, "that dementia prevention programmes can be inexpensive and cost-effective if they start early and are clearly targeted at risk groups." And "in good time", according to the team of scientists from IMC Krems and UWK, means before the first symptoms of dementia become clinically recognisable. The preventive measures considered in the study included special approaches that reduce the effects of existing diabetes or cardiovascular disease in those affected, as well as special behavioural and nutritional interventions.

Together with Univ. Dr Stefanie Auer, Dean of the Faculty of Health and Medicine, and Associate Professor Dr Margit Höfler from the Department of Dementia Research (both from the University of Continuing Education Krems), Prof Braun reviewed over 3,600 studies on the topic for the recently published analysis. The analysis was able to identify a total of seven studies that contained comparable data.

Optimised Prevention

Prof Braun on the findings of this extensive study: "It shows that dementia prevention saves costs and also increases the quality of life and years of life of the risk group." In fact, the analysis shows that the costs for the intervention programmes examined averaged less than EUR 500 – but already provided a demonstrable increase in quality of life for the participants and had a much higher cost-saving potential for the healthcare system. According to the research team's interpretation of the data, this potential would probably be even higher if the intervention programmes did not start at an advanced age (from 60, as in the majority of the studies analysed), but even before that. Prof Auer comments: "We already know from many studies on the prevention of dementia that early and targeted preventive measures that focus on lifestyle factors and are aimed at the wider community are significantly more effective than measures that start when symptoms first appear. Now we can also show that this approach also makes economic sense."

Overall, the study shows that prevention programs that focus on risk groups and start earlier in life could reduce the costs of dealing with dementia – and are therefore a useful tool for the future, when the number of people with dementia is expected to rise sharply.

Original Publication Cost-Effectiveness of Prevention for People at Risk for Dementia: A Scoping Review and Qualitative Synthesis. Braun, A.; Höfler, M.; Auer, S. (2023). Journal of Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease, 11(5).

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IMC Krems at a glance

Located in the heart of the province of Lower Austria, IMC Krems is committed to promoting internationalisation, practically focused education and innovation. It has 160-plus partner universities, in excess of 1,000 partner companies worldwide and over 3,000 students from 90 countries spread across two locations in Austria, with another 700 studying at five sites abroad. The contemporary topics of sustainability and digitalisation feature prominently in all of the degree programmes at this dynamic, modern institution. IMC Krems offers 27 full-time and part-time bachelor and master degree programmes and four continuing education courses in its core subjects of business, digitalisation and engineering, health sciences, and life sciences. The university has strong links with research and business – total funding for the university’s numerous research projects currently amounts to several million euros. English and German as the languages of instruction, internships in Austria and overseas, as well as international exchange programmes and semesters abroad ensure that students are equipped with all the tools they need for careers in Austria or other countries. Outstanding performance: IMC Krems’ excellent reputation in Austria and abroad is reflected in numerous external distinctions (CHE Ranking, IQNet and Quality Austria for fulfilment of ISO standards, Diploma Supplement Label), certificates (evalag), membership of international organisations (FHK, AACSB, ÖAWI, EAIE), and accreditations from international organisations.

Scientific Contact

Prof. (FH) Dr. Alexander Braun, MSc MA
Institute Health Management
IMC Krems University of Applied Sciences Piaristengasse 1.
3500 Krems / Austria
T +43 2732 802 774

IMC Krems

Mag. Anita Winkler
Project Manager Science communication / Marketing & Public Relations 
Piaristengasse 1
3500 Krems / Austria
T +43 2732 802 339

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