The number of cases of dementia is estimated to double by 2030 and at least triple by 2050 as life expectancy and medical care improve, according to a study by the World Health organisation (WHO) and reported by Frank Jordan’s at The Associated Press.
Dementia is a syndrome caused by a disease of the brain, the most common form of which is Alzheimer’s, that leads to disturbances in memory, thinking, orientation, comprehension, calculation, learning capacity, language and judgement.
The number of people worldwide who are living with dementia was about 35.6 million in 2011 and is expected to reach 65.7 million in 2030 and 115.4 million in 2050, according to “Dementia: A Public Health Priority.”
The worldwide financial cost of care — which is largely taken on by patients’ families — is about $605 billion per year and is set to increase even more quickly than the prevalence.
The problem is especially acute in poorer countries where diagnosis is worse, unpaid care provided by the family is the norm and changing population demographics may reduce the availability of informal caregivers in the future.
Although research identifying modifiable risk factors is in its infancy, WHO points to evidence that suggests primary prevention should focus on countering risk factors for vascular disease such as diabetes, midlife hypertension, midlife obesity, smoking, and physical inactivity.
WHO recommends making dementia a global public health priority by working on raising awareness, timely diagnosis, commitment to good quality continuing care and services, caregiver support, workforce training, prevention and research.
Photo: World Health organisation
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