Dementia: A Growing Epidemic

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The Dementia Epidemic

Dementia is a disorder of the mental processes caused by brain disease or injury and marked by memory disorders, personality changes, and impaired reasoning.

1906: Year that dementia first “discovered” (named) by Alois Alzheimer
44 million: number of people, worldwide, with dementia today
76 million: number of people with dementia in 2030
135 million: number of people expected to have dementia by 2050
7.7 million: number of new cases of dementia each year
1. There is a new case of dementia somewhere in the world every 4 seconds.

Where are they?

62: percentage of dementia suffers in 2013, living in poor countries
But that number will rise to:
70 percent by 2050 (living in poor countries)
Most countries are not prepared for this global epidemic:

From 2013 to 2050 (number of people projected to have dementia)

Asia: 22 to 72 million (226 percent increase)
Europe: 11 to 21 million (90 percent inc.)
The Americas: 9 to 31 million (248 percent inc)
Africa: 3 to 12 (345 percent inc)

The Cost of Dementia

$600 billion: global cost of dementia care.

That’s 1 percent of global domestic product (GDP)

13: number of countries with national dementia plan (out of 130 countries in the World Health Organization). They are:

• Australia
• Belgium
• Denmark
• Finland
• France
• Luxembourg
• Netherlands
• Chinese Taipei
• Norway
• U.K.
• Republic of Korea
• Switzerland
• U.S.A.

If dementia care were a country, it would be the world’s 18th largest economy, ranking between Turkey and Indonesia.

If dementia care were a company, it would be the world’s largest by annual revenue, greater than:
• Wal-Mart ($414 billion)
• Exxon Mobil ($311 billion)

Recognizing dementia

Symptoms: 2 of these core mental functions must be significantly impaired to be considered dementia:
• Memory
• Communication and language
• Ability to focus and pay attention
• Reasoning and judgment
• Visual perception
60-80 percent: of dementia cases suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease
24 million: number of people worldwide, with Alzheimer’s Disease (the most common form of dementia)
• 5.3 million: number of Americans with AD
• 6th leading cause of death in U.S. is AD
• AD is 5th leading cause of death in Americans age 65 and older.
Vascular dementia: 2nd most common form (after AD)
Other, less common forms of dementia:
• Frontotemporal dementia: aka Pick’s disease or frontal lobe dementia.
• progressive supranuclear palsy and
• Binswanger’s disease.
• Korsakoff’s syndrome: associated with heavy drinking
• HIV-related cognitive impairment


Doctors use medicines to treat dementia in the following ways:
• To correct a condition that’s causing dementia, such as thyroid replacement for hypothyroidism, vitamins for lack of B12, or antibiotics for infections
• To maintain mental functioning for as long as possible when dementia cannot be reversed
• To prevent further strokes in people who have vascular dementia
• To manage mood or behavior problems, such as depression, insomnia, hallucinations, , and agitation
Medicines to help maintain mental function:
• Cholinesterase inhibitors such as donepezil (Aricept), galantamine (Reminyl), and rivastigmine (Exelon).
• These drugs were developed to treat Alzheimer’s disease, but they may be tried in other dementias, especially vascular dementia.2
• It is not clear how long these medicines will work.
• Memantine (Namenda). Used to treat symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease
Medicines to help control mood or behavior problems:
• Antipsychotic drugs, such as risperidone (Risperdal) or olanzapine (Zyprexa).
• Antidepressants, especially selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
Medicines to prevent future strokes:
• medicines for high blood pressure and high cholesterol, since these conditions are risk factors for vascular dementia.
Support groups:
The Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 Helpline: 800.272.3900
Early Stage Support Group.  Contact Kate Nederostek, program director (801-265-1944 or to learn more.



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