Experts Warn About Looming Dementia Epidemic

elderly manThere are currently 44 million people worldwide who are suffering from dementia, but that number is expected to explode to 135 million by 2050 and most governments are not prepared for these overwhelming numbers.

According to Fox News, the advocacy group known as Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) is reporting a 17 percent increase in the number of people with Alzheimer’s just since 2010, and warned that more than 70 percent of dementia sufferers will be living in poor countries by the year 2050.

“It’s a global epidemic and it is only getting worse,” said ADI’s executive director Marc Wortmann. “If we look into the future the numbers of elderly people will rise dramatically. It’s vital that the World Health Organization makes dementia a priority, so the world is ready to face this condition.”

Alzheimer’s, which is a brain disease for which there is no cure, is just one form of the disorder that affects patients’ memory, thinking and behavior. Other forms include vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), and fronto-temporal dementia.

At present, the global cost of caring for people with dementia is $600 billion, or around 1.0 percent of global domestic product, but that is only expected to increase according to the ADI.

In spite of these alarming numbers, a recent policy report published along with the new data found that only 13 countries have national dementia plans in place.

“This is a global problem that is increasingly impacting on developing countries with limited resources and little time to develop comprehensive systems of social protection, health and social care,” said Martin Prince, a professor at King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry.

Experts are hoping that something can be done about this woeful state of unpreparedness when the leaders of the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized nations meet in London for a special session on dementia.

But it has to get beyond just talk and must result in nations pledging more money for research and drug development.

“Lack of funding means dementia research is falling behind other conditions,” said Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society. “The G8 is our once-in-a-generation chance to conquer this condition and we must see meaningful action after the talking is over.”

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