Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI) released a report analyzing prevalence, incidence, costs and trends for dementia, revealing that costs for treating the disease are expected to reach $1 trillion within three years.
There are now 46.8 million people around the world living with dementia, with numbers projected to almost double every 20 years. That means by 2030, there will be 74.7 million people with the disease, and by 2050, 131.5 million. More than 9.9 million new cases are diagnosed every year worldwide, translating to a new case for every 3.2 seconds.
Current economic and societal costs for treating dementia are set at $818 billion. The report showed that treatment costs have grown by 35 percent since the World Alzheimer Report released in 2010. That year, costs were pegged at $604 billion. If dementia was to be treated as a country then, it would have the 18th largest economy in the globe, exceeding market values for big companies like Google and Apple.
Data on dementia prevalence, incidence and cost around the world were updated in the report, highlighting the increasing impact of the disease on low- and middle-income countries. About 58 percent of all those with dementia are living in these countries and that number is expected to rise to 68 percent by 2050. In the same year, almost half of all those with dementia will also be found in Asia.
The estimates presented in the report are based on research led by Martin Prince from the Global Observatory for Ageing and Dementia Care at King's College London. The findings factored in that a growing number of people are growing old, as well as new evidence on how many people have dementia and the costs they incurred.
"We now believe that we underestimated the current and future scale of the epidemic by 12-13% in the 2009 World Alzheimer Report, with costs growing more rapidly than the numbers of people affected," said Prince.
Marc Wortmann, ADI executive director, added that the increasing cost of dementia on a global scale poses serious challenges to social and health care systems throughout the world, with the report demonstrating an urgent need for governments to come up with legislation and policies that will improve the quality of life of those living with dementia.
A key recommendation from the report calls for a dramatic increase in investments into research care, prevention, treatment and cure.
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