The number of people with dementia is set to double by 2050

Cropped view of senior man playing with puzzles
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According to a new report from Alzheimer Europe, the number of people with dementia is set to double by 2050, despite a marked reduction in the prevalence of dementia

During a European Parliament lunch debate on the 18 Feb. 20, hosted by Christophe Hansen MEP (Luxembourg), Alzheimer Europe launched a new report presenting the findings of its collaborative analysis of recent prevalence studies and setting out updated prevalence rates for dementia in Europe.

Over the past 30 years, several significant pieces of work have been undertaken to estimate the prevalence of dementia at a European level, including:

  • EURODEM study in the early 80s (updated in 2000)
  • Alzheimer Europe’s project European Collaboration on Dementia – EuroCoDe (2006-2008)
  • ALCOVE, the 1st EU Joint Action on Dementia (2011-2013).

Alzheimer Europe recognised that the most recent studies are over six years old and therefore it was important to establish more recent dementia prevalence estimates, using the most up-to-date academic literature on the subject.

The findings presented below are based on a collaborative analysis of prevalence studies published since the conclusion of the EuroCoDe project. A total of 16 studies meeting predefined quality criteria were included in the collaborative analysis.

The key findings of this new Alzheimer Europe report include:

  • For men, there has been a reduction in the prevalence of dementia across all age groups over the past ten years when compared to Alzheimer Europe’s 2008 EuroCoDe estimates.
  • For women, apart from the age group of women between 75 and 79 years, there has been a reduction in the prevalence of dementia over the past ten years when compared to EuroCoDe.
  • The number of people living with dementia in the European Union (EU27) is estimated to be 7,853,705 and in European countries represented by AE members, 9,780,678. However, compared to its earlier estimates, this constitutes a significant reduction from 8,785,645 for the EU27 and from 10,935,444 for the broader European region.
  • However, women continue to be disproportionately affected by dementia with 6,650,228 women and 3,130,449 men living with dementia in Europe.
  • The number of people with dementia in Europe will almost double by 2050, increasing to 14,298,671 in the European Union and 18,846,286 in the wider European region.

Alzheimer Europe’s Yearbook also highlighted significant limitations in the available research into dementia prevalence and a lack of research into:

  • The prevalence of younger people with dementia (i.e. those aged under 65)
  • The prevalence of different types of dementia
  • The number of people affected by different stages of dementia including mild cognitive impairment
  • The prevalence of dementia of people from ethnic minority groups.

Commenting on the findings, Jean Georges, Alzheimer Europe Executive Director, 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.”

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