LONDON, Sept 19 A global rise in cases of the
mind-robbing Alzheimer's disease is creating a chronic shortage
of carers, with the number of old people dependent on care set
to nearly treble to 277 million by 2050, according to a report
by a leading dementia charity.
Half of all older people who need personal care have
dementia, the report by Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI)
said, and governments should make dementia a priority by
implementing national plans and starting urgent debate on how to
ensure long-term care for future generations.
Alzheimer's is a fatal brain disease that has no cure and
few effective treatments. It affects memory, thinking and
behaviour and is placing an increasingly heavy burden on
societies and economies across the world.
Even now, the worldwide cost of dementia care is more than
$600 billion, or around 1.0 percent of global gross domestic
product, and that can only increase, ADI's report said.
As the world population ages, the traditional system in the
United States, Europe and around the world of "informal" care by
family, friends, and community will require much greater
support, it said.
Globally, 13 percent of people aged 60 or over currently
require long-term care. But between 2010 and 2050, the total
number of older people with care needs will nearly treble from
101 to 277 million, according to the report.
Martin Prince, a professor at King's College London's
Institute of Psychiatry and author of the report, said health
and social care authorities needed to recognise quickly that
"people with dementia have special needs".
"Compared with other long-term care users they need more
personal care, more hours of care, and more supervision, all of
which is associated with greater strain on caregivers, and
higher costs," he said in a statement.
"Their needs for care start early in the disease course, and
evolve constantly over time, requiring advanced planning,
monitoring, and coordination."
ADI says research budgets for work on dementia, its causes,
treatment and care, need to increase ten-fold to mitigate the
impact of the rise in cases.
(Reporting by Kate Kelland; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)