Global Impact of Dementia is Expected to Rise Significantly through 2050

Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI), a worldwide federation of Alzheimer’s associations, released a policy brief projecting the increased global impact of dementia from 2013 through 2050. According to the brief, 44.35 million people are currently estimated to suffer from dementia in 2013. However, the number of individuals who are expected to suffer from the disease is expected to reach an astounding 135 million during 2050.  According to a December 5, 2013, ADI news release, the policy brief was published for heads of state in preparation for this year’s G8 Dementia Summit.

2050

ADI’s global impact policy brief presented an update on international dementia projections from the World Alzheimer Report 2009. According to the new figures, the number of individuals who are estimated to suffer from dementia in 2050 has increased 17 percent from just four years ago. Whereas the 2009 report suggested 115 million people will suffer from dementia worldwide in 2050, the updated estimate is 135 million.

Global Shift

Currently, The ADI estimates that 71 percent of the people that are projected to suffer from dementia in 2050 will be in low or middle income countries. This demonstrates a global shift in where dementia is expected to place a greater burden. Historically, high income countries demonstrated larger numbers of dementia within their populations, and low and middle income countries showed lower instances of dementia. ADI suggests this shift is attributable to new evidence from China and the Sub-Saharan African region, where dementia prevalence rates were applied to 2012 U.N. population projections.

Conclusions and Implications

 The brief estimates that by improving public health, such as targeting “smoking, underactivity, obesity, hypertension and diabetes,” up to 10 percent of dementia cases can be prevented. Additionally, the brief discloses that the disease is the single largest cause of disability and health care needs for the elderly, creating a yearly global societal cost of $604 billion. That number is expected to increase proportionally to the rising number of international dementia cases.

In order to improve the quality and coverage of dementia health care, and in order to create effective treatments and prevention, the brief urges that the international community initiate debates to make dementia research a global public health priority. Marc Wortmann, the Executive Director of ADI, stated, “At the eve of the G8 Dementia Summit in London, UK, it is not just the G8 countries, but all nations, that must commit to a sustained increase in dementia research.

The G8 dementia summit took place on December 11, 2013. In its December 13, 2013, news release, ADI noted that the UK government committed to doubling its dementia research funding to £122 million by 2025. ADI will be leading a post-G8 global dementia task force to increase international dementia research and awareness, and to improve health and social care systems worldwide.