Dementia Rates in Europe 'To Nearly Double by 2050'

Nicky Broyd

February 20, 2020

A new report from the umbrella organisation Alzheimer Europe, which includes the UK Alzheimer's Society and Alzheimer Scotland, predicts a close to doubling of dementia cases in Europe by 2050, despite prevalence of the condition falling.

The forecast for the UK is 2 million cases. 

Its predictions come from a collaborative analysis of recent prevalence studies funded by the EU Health Programme and include:

  • The number of people with dementia in Europe will almost double by 2050 to 14,298,671 in the European Union and 18,846,286 in the wider European region

  • Across bother genders and most age groups, dementia prevalence has reduced over the past 10 years compared to 2008 estimates

  • Women continue to be disproportionately affected by dementia

In a statement, Alzheimer Europe executive director, Jean Georges, said: "It is promising to see that healthier lifestyles, better education and improved control of cardiovascular risk factors seem to have contributed to a reduction of the prevalence of dementia.

"However, our report also demonstrates that the number of people living with the condition is set to increase substantially in the years ahead, which will only place greater pressure on care and support services unless better ways of treating and preventing dementia are identified. If people with dementia, their families and carers are to receive the high-quality and person-centred care they need, governments must ensure their health and care systems are ready to meet this demand and greater investments in research into the treatment and prevention of dementia are needed."

'Startling Figures'

Reacting to the report in a statement, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Alzheimer’s Research UK, Samantha Benham-Hermetz, said: "These startling figures emphasise the looming global health crisis of dementia, but sadly they come as no surprise.

"If we are unable to find ways to prevent or treat the diseases that cause dementia, 1 in 3 people born today will develop dementia in their lifetimes. We must act now, and invest more than ever before in dementia research, to stop these projections from becoming a reality."

She repeated the organisation's call for dementia to be made a research priority, and she continued "we cannot find life-changing treatments for dementia alone, this must be a global effort. Now that the UK has formally left the EU, it’s vital that cross-border research across Europe continues to receive vital support. With further investment and collaboration from government, charity and industry, this commitment will make possible the breakthroughs that could transform lives."

Sally Copley, director of policy and campaigns at Alzheimer’s Society, stressed the importance of lifestyle changes: "It’s extremely positive to see a reduction in the proportion of people developing dementia, which is likely down to healthier lifestyles reducing dementia risk."

She added, "Our chronically underfunded social care system cannot cope and requires drastic reform. We believe only free universal care, funded like schools and the NHS, will provide people with dementia the dignity, security and fundamental care they deserve now and in the future."

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