The number of people living with dementia in the world doubled since 1990 – Innovita Research

The number of people living with dementia in the world doubled since 1990

Age-related dementia is a terrible debilitating condition, which affects millions around the globe. It is one of the reasons why so many of us are afraid of getting old. Scientists say that dementia is actually a growing problem – the global burden of dementia has doubled since 1990, according to a new research from the University of Melbourne and the University of Washington.

Aging population will increase the number of people with dementia even more, but many risk factors are avoidable. Image credit: Sharada Prasad CS via Wikimedia (CC BY 2.0)

Between 1990 and 2016 the number of people living with dementia in the world grew from 20.2 million to 43.8 million. Of course, it has a lot to do with aging populations – scientists say that dementia is more common at older ages and its prevalence doubles every five years over age 50. However, scientists say that a lot of the risk factors associated with dementia are preventable – they are related to being overweight, high blood sugar, consuming a lot of sugar sweetened beverages and smoking. That is why scientists are calling for more preventive measures and encourage adopting a healthy lifestyle in order to preserve healthy years.

One of the big issues with dementia is that it develops over at least 20 to 30 years before it is diagnosed. This means that scientists have to develop new tools for early diagnosis and intervention. They estimate that by 2050 the number of people living with dementia could be around 100 million. O only it is a problem from a health point of view, but it will also become a significant financial burden on healthcare systems around the globe. More facilities will be needed as well as health professionals. All that will require time, effort and money, but many of these cases can be prevented or at least delayed.

Four modifiable risk factors (being overweight, high blood sugar, consuming a lot of sugary drinks and smoking tobacco) account for 22.3 % of the total global disability-adjusted life years lost due to dementia. Professor Cassandra Szoeke, lead author of the study, said that it is possible to find even more risk factors contributing to this huge global health problem. Szoeke said: “Chronic diseases are becoming the leading causes of death and disability worldwide, and whilst we continue to work daily on new therapies to target disease, at home we really need to focus more on the health choices that we know extend both disease-free and disability-free survival”.

Living a healthier lifestyle and taking care of the elderly should be main priorities for many people. As the population ages, the frequency of chronic diseases is going to increase. This will completely change the ratio between working and non-working people, which will trigger economic disturbances. But, most importantly, dementia is just so terrible that you should do everything you can to avoid it.


Source: University of Melbourne