Dementia Around the World
Diseases like Alzheimer’s and related dementias are common all over the world. Developed nations are more likely to have the resources to detect and diagnose instances of certain diseases. However, in low-income countries, these services are less likely to exist, which may mean that many cases of Alzheimer’s and other dementias are going undiagnosed. According to Alzheimer’s disease International, high income countries are likely to recognize 20% to 50% of dementia cases, while low income countries experience a greater “treatment gap.” For example, some research suggests that in India, the amount of undiagnosed cases can be as high as 90%.
The impact of Alzheimer’s across the world does not only lie within rates of diagnosis. There are significant financial costs, as well. In the U.S., caring for Alzheimer’s is estimated to be $236 billion, while the global cost of Alzheimer’s is estimated at $605 billion. These numbers are likely to rise given that the elderly population across the world is also increasing. In more vulnerable areas, the costs can be disproportionate. For example, in sub-Saharan Africa, the estimated cost of formal and informal Alzheimer’s care in 2015 is $6.2 billion. However, the awareness of dementia is lower than other countries. According to Alzheimer’s Disease International’s report on dementia across sub-Saharan Africa, many local languages may not have a word or category for “Alzheimer’s” and “dementia,” potentially leading many people to not recognize, somewhat accidentally, a serious neurological brain disorder. Additionally, the communities surveyed in the study had different rationalizations as to why older people had certain behaviors consistent with dementia symptoms. In order to meet needs in lower income countries, more research needs to be conducted, as well as establishing educational initiatives to inform people the signs, symptoms, and preventative measures of serious neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s. Currently, countries in sub-Saharan Africa have not implemented concrete strategies to address the growing demand for dementia care across the continent.
The demands for Alzheimer’s care and care for other dementias is growing as the world’s population increases. By 2050, the United Nations estimates the global population will reach 9.8 billion. This population increase also includes a growing number of older individuals aged 60 and above. Their population is expected to rise from 962 million in 2017 to 2.1 billion in 2050. As a result, there will be an increased demand for elder care across the world.
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 Source: https://www.alz.co.uk/research/statistics
 Source: Ibid.
 Source: https://www.alz.co.uk/dementia-in-africa
 Source: https://www.un.org/development/desa/en/news/population/world-population-prospects-2017.html