According to a recent report from Alzheimer’s Disease International, an group of research and advocacy organizations, about 135 million people will suffer from dementia by 2050. This estimate represents 17% increase from previously released figures.
Millions Currently Suffer From Dementia
In 2013, it’s estimated that there were about 44 million people living with dementia worldwide. In 2010, there were only 35 million. That represents about a 25% increase in the number of dementia sufferers in only three years.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, one in three seniors in the United States will die with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. Currently, 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and it’s the sixth leading cause of death in the country. By 2013, the Alzheimer’s Association estimates that Alzheimer’s disease alone will account for $203 billion in medical expenses, By 2050, that number will balloon to $1.2 trillion.
Nations Taking Notice
World leaders have taken note of the growing dementia problem and have begun taking steps to outline ways to combat it. At a recent meeting of the G8 nations in London, UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced that his nation will be doubling the amount it spends on dementia research by 2025. The other G8 nations, including the United States, Canada, France, and Germany, also agreed to increase the amount of money they’re spending to research and combat the growing problem.
Alzheimer’s Growing Presence
Alzheimer’s disease has grown in significance in recent years. Between 2000 and 2010, deaths attributable to HIV, stroke, heart disease, prostate cancer, and breast cancer all decreased. During the same period, however, deaths due to Alzheimer’s disease increased by 68%.
Currently, there is no treatment or cure for for Alzheimer’s disease. Because it is a disease that primarily affects seniors, the number of people suffering from it has increased dramatically as the population has become older.
The rise in Alzheimer’s disease has also caused a dramatic increase in the number of hours family members have spent caring for Alzheimer’s sufferers. In 2012, for example, more than 15 million American family members and friends spent 17.5 billion man-hours providing unpaid assistance to people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
The work these caregivers provide is usually stressful and difficult. A majority of those caring for a friend or family member suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia say that they experience high or very high levels of emotional stress. This stress that caregivers experience lead to a total cost of $9.1 billion in additional health care costs in 2012. As the amount of time spent on providing dementia and Alzheimer sufferers with care increases, so too will those costs.