Dementia as Growing Public Health Issue

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Estimates say that starting now, the number of people around the world who have dementia will double every 20 years. That means today's caseload of 35 million victims will balloon to 70 million by 2030, then leap to an astounding 115 million by 2050. The news is in a report out yesterday from Alzheimer's Disease International. (Read the report's Executive Summary [PDF, 24 pages, 746KB])

We're left wondering: is the United States prepared for this increase? And why haven't we heard about this before now? We speak to David Shenk, author of the book "The Forgetting: Alzheimer's: Portrait of an Epidemic," and Renee Packel, a 73-year-old caregiver whose husband has Alzheimer's.

"He was an attorney, he was a very, very brilliant man. Now he's just a shell. He really cannot follow any conversation...He can't see a glass in front of him because it doesn't just affect your memory: it affects how you see, how you think. He basically has to be cared for all the time."
—Renee Packel, 73-year-old caregiver whose husband has Alzheimer's on her husband's condition


Renee Packel and David Shenk


Molly Webster

Comments [2]

David Shenk


35 million is not a prediction. It's a reality right now. The prediction, which is about as sure a bet as you could make about anything, is that that number will double over the next 20 years. Alzheimer's costs the US over $100 billion a year and costs the world over $300 billion. You can try to wish this away as some sort of liberal conspiracy, but if you actually want to learn the facts, you'll see that Alzheimer's disease is personally devastating, enormously expensive, and is an enormous threat to our economy and our society.

Sep. 26 2009 05:31 PM
Patrick Carrol

I really like the way you skirted the 35 million worldwide to make is seem more like 35 million in the US. Setting that aside, the 35 million prediction is about one person in 200, or 0.5%. This is not a terribly large number. And it's a prediction. Still, it's a health care story, right, and the American people must be stampeded into doing what Great Leader wants.

Sep. 22 2009 09:41 AM

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