Dementia is one of the most significant health crises of the 21st century

Guest Blog from Alzheimer’s Disease International

Every 3 seconds, someone in the world develops dementia. Today, more than 46 million people are living with the disease. This number is set to almost double every 20 years, making the dementia one of the most significant health crises of the 21st century.

Dementia is a collective name for degenerative brain syndromes which affect memory, thinking, behaviour and emotion. Although each person will experience dementia in their own way, after a period of time people living with dementia are unable to care for themselves and need help with all aspects of daily life.

Many people around the world are now living for longer. Over the past century, successes in improving standards of health and social care means the world population now has more older people than ever before.

As a result, much of the increase in dementia’s global prevalence will take place in low and middle income countries (LMICs). Today, over half of all people with dementia live in LMICs. By 2050, this will rise to 68%, so it is vital we are able to help these countries provide services and support.

In 2015, the global cost of dementia care is estimated at $818 billion. If global dementia care were a company, it would be the world’s largest by annual revenue exceeding Apple (US$ 742 billion) and Google (US$ 368 billion). In just three years’ time, dementia is set to become a trillion dollar disease.

Across the globe, there is a growing awareness about dementia, but stigma and misinformation remain significant barriers to making the world a better place for people living with the disease.

2 out of 3 people globally believe there is little or no understanding of dementia in their countries, so it’s essential we work together to educate ourselves and our communities to dispel lingering myths about dementia.

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September is World Alzheimer’s Month™, an international campaign to raise awareness and challenge stigma. During September, Alzheimer associations around the world focus campaigns on advocacy and public awareness with a packed month of activities including information provision, Memory Walks and media appearances. Each year, more and more countries are participating in World Alzheimer’s Month events and in many areas, dementia awareness is growing.

ADI is the umbrella organisation of over 80 Alzheimer’s associations around the globe. It’s thanks to the hard work and dedication of these national Alzheimer associations that the impact of World Alzheimer’s Month is felt at both a national and global level.

World Alzheimer’s Month is a time for action, a global movement united by its call for change, but it is also a time to reflect on the impact of dementia, a disease that will affect more and more people as the years pass.

Dementia is a global issue that demands a global solution. By educating ourselves about dementia and campaigning for better health and social care provision we can help people living with dementia both now and in the future. By joining us this September and helping to spread the word you can help us make this a reality.

Find out how you can get involved and find events in your country by visiting www.worldalzmonth.org and following Alzheimer’s Disease International on Twitter and Facebook.

About Julia Manning

Julia is a social pioneer, writer and campaigner. She studied visual science at City University and became a member of the College of Optometrists in 1991, later specialising in visual impairment and diabetes. During her career in optometry, she lectured at City University, was a visiting clinician at the Royal Free Hospital and worked with Primary Care Trusts. She ran a domiciliary practice across south London and was a Director of the UK Institute of Optometry. Julia formed 20/20Health in 2006. Becoming an expert in digital health solutions, she led on the NHS–USA Veterans’ Health Digital Health Exchange Programme and was co-founder of the Health Tech and You Awards with Axa PPP and the Design Museum. Her research interests are now in harnessing digital to improve personal health, and she is a PhD candidate in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) at UCL. She is also dedicated to creating a sustainable Whole School Wellbeing Community model for schools that builds relationships, discovers assets and develops life skills. She is a member of the Royal Society of Medicine’s Digital Health Council. Julia has shared 2020health's research widely in the media (BBC News, ITV, Channel 5 News, BBC 1′s The Big Questions & Victoria Derbyshire, BBC Radio 4 Today, PM and Woman's Hour, LBC) and has taken part in debates and contributed to BBC’s Newsnight, Panorama, You and Yours and ITV’s The Week.
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