The Global Problem
Dementia is rapidly increasing around the world.
Dementia is an umbrella term for a set of symptoms caused by disorders affecting the brain. Symptoms may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, behavior, movement, or language, severe enough to reduce a person's ability to perform everyday activities.
According to the World Health Organization, by 2050 the number of people with dementia will more than triple—reaching 152 million. Despite the growing issue, only 32 countries worldwide currently have national programs in place to address dementia.
Caring for those with dementia presents profound challenges to families and society, and the growing global burden is vastly underestimated. The risk of dementia is tightly linked to aging. The expansion of aging populations is occurring most rapidly in low- and middle-income countries; the personal, societal, and economic burden of dementia will be largely experienced in these regions.
There is currently no known prevention, cure, or effective treatment for dementia; however, up to 40% of cases could potentially be prevented by public health and lifestyle interventions.
The current and future impact of dementia is what drives the work of our team. Our goal is to address the urgency of this growing issue by reducing the scale and impact of dementia.
Brain health and dementia by the numbers
- Around the world, there will be one new case of dementia every 3 seconds
- Over 50% of carers globally say their health has suffered as a result of their caring responsibilities even while expressing positive sentiments about their role
- Almost 62% of healthcare providers worldwide think that dementia is part of normal aging
- 40% of the general public think doctors and nurses ignore people with dementia
- The global cost of dementia was estimated to be US$1 trillion in 2018 and will increase to an estimated $2 trillion by 2030.
- Direct medical care costs account for roughly 20% of global dementia costs, while direct social sector costs and informal care costs each account for roughly 40%.
- Between 2015 and 2050, the number of older people living in high-income countries is forecast to increase by 56% and by 239% in low-income countries.
- By 2050, 71% of all people living with dementia will live in low- and middle-income countries.
Sources: World Alzheimer Report 2018, The Lancet Series on Ageing, “Dementia: A Public Health Priority” by WHO and Alzheimer’s Disease International, “Global Efforts” by the Alzheimer’s Association, “Government Alzheimer plans” by Alzheimer’s Disease International
We can build stronger brains during life.
Research shows that while many forms of dementia have a genetic contribution, many cases can potentially be prevented by public health and lifestyle interventions.
These twelve potentially modifiable risk factors account for up to 40% of worldwide dementia:
- Less education
- Hearing impairment
- Traumatic brain injury
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Social isolation
- Physical inactivity
- Air pollution
Dementia is rooted in socio-economic inequities and driven by the same social determinants that drive physical health problems. By taking an equity-focused approach to brain health that emphasizes diversity and inclusion, we have the potential to reduce the scale and impact of dementia worldwide.
Learn more about Equity in Brain Health