In a recent study, European researchers estimate that about 35 million people have dementia worldwide. They said that figure is likely to double every 20 years, to nearly 66 million in 2030 and 115 million in 2050.
The global cost of dementia will likely exceed $604 billion this year, or 1 percent of the world's gross domestic product, a new report says.
In the report scientists called the spread of dementia "an epidemic that is increasing its pace with the 'graying' of the population around the world." As people live longer, particularly in developed countries, they become more susceptible to developing dementia, it is reported.
After the age of 65, the chances of developing Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia, doubles every five years. At age 85, people have about a 50 percent chance of developing Alzheimer's.
"Alzheimer's disease and other dementias are the single most significant health and social crisis of the 21st century," Daisy Acosta, chairman of the Alzheimer's Disease International, said in a statement.
Martin Prince, one of its co-authors and a professor at the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London, urged countries to develop better treatment plans. "The care of people with dementia is not just a health issue, it is a massive social issue," he said.
Copyright 2010 PROMETHEUS
PROMETHEUS, Internet Bulletin for Art, News, Politics and Science, Nr. 160, October 2010