The number of people with dementia in Switzerland is currently around 150,000. The objectives of the National Dementia Strategy developed by the federal and cantonal authorities are to improve the quality of life of this growing group of patients, to reduce the associated burdens and to ensure the quality of care. The SAMS is contributing to these efforts with its medical-ethical guidelines on «Care and treatment of people with dementia».
The course of dementia – a condition generally occurring in combination with chronic somatic or mental disorders – is often protracted and is difficult to predict. Incapacity in severe dementia, disease-related behavioural disturbances, the burden placed on relatives, or care-related challenges can all lead to difficult decision-making situations and give rise to ethical conflicts. The SAMS medical-ethical guidelines on the care and treatment of people with dementia offer practical guidance.
The guidelines are addressed to physicians, nurses and therapists. They do not cover overarching topics, such as the development of needs-based services across the entire care chain. These topics – discussed in additional action areas defined in the National Dementia Strategy (2014-2019) – are, however, a prerequisite for the implementation of the guidelines.