The number of people with dementia is steadily increasing. Alzheimer's Society believes that careful planning for the future is needed now to ensure that the right care and support is available.
The report Dementia UK, published in February 2007, provides the most up-to-date evaluation of the numbers of people with dementia in the UK, projections on numbers of people in the future and the prevalence of dementia. The figures from Dementia UK have been updated to bring them into line with current population data. These figures are summarised below and were published with the launch of our Dementia 2012 report.
- There are 800,000 people in the UK with a form of dementia in 2012
- There are over 17,000 people under 65 with dementia in the UK in 2012
- One in 14 people over 65 years of age and one in six people over 80 years of age has a form of dementia
The number of people with dementia in different parts of the UK has been estimated by applying new prevalence figures to estimates of population numbers for 2012:
- England: 665,065 (2012)
- Northern Ireland: 18,862 (2012)
- Wales: 44,598 (2012)
3. Prevalence and incidence
When talking about demography it is important to distinguish between prevalence - the frequency with which dementia occurs in the population, and incidence - the number of new cases of dementia in a given time period.
The well established prevalence rates for dementia in the UK are:
- 40-64 years: 1 in 1400
- 65-69 years: 1 in 100
- 70-79 years: 1 in 25
- 80+ years: 1 in 6
4. Projected growth
- It is estimated that by 2021 there will be one million people with dementia in the UK
- This is expected to rise to over 1.7 million people with dementia by 2051.
Many people talk about the 'demographic time bomb' or 'tidal wave' of older people, which the state cannot afford to cater for. The Society believes that this is misleading. A steady, rather than dramatic growth is expected over the next 25 years.
The National Dementia Strategy in England and strategies and plans in Wales and Northern Ireland are very important steps to ensuring the needs of people with dementia will be properly addressed in years to come. The use of phrases such as the demographic time bomb, or the view that older people are a burden on our society, does not encourage the view that a sustainable system can be developed.
Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia. The proportions of those with different forms of dementia can be broken down as follows:
- Alzheimer's disease (AD): 62%
- Vascular dementia (VaD): 17%
- Mixed dementia (AD and VaD): 10%
- Dementia with Lewy bodies: 4%
- Fronto-temporal dementia: 2%
- Parkinson's dementia: 2%
- Other dementias: 3%
5. Younger people and dementia
Dementia in people under the age of 65 is comparatively rare. There are over 17,000 younger people with dementia in the UK. However, this number is likely to be an under estimate and the true figure may be up to three times higher. Data on the numbers of young onset cases are based on referrals to services, which can significantly underestimate the numbers, because not all those with young onset dementia seek help early in the disease course.
6. People from black and minority ethnic groups and dementia
It is estimated that there are at least 11,000 people from black and minority ethnic (BME) groups with dementia. It is noteworthy that 6.1% of all people with dementia among BME groups are young onset, compared with only 2.2% for the UK population as a whole, reflecting the younger age profile of BME communities.
The proportion of older people from ethnic minority groups in the UK is small, but increasing steadily as this section of the population ages. It is therefore predicted that the number of people with dementia from BME groups will rise quickly. However, many services for people with dementia from these communities remain inappropriate and inaccessible.
7. People with a learning disability and dementia
People with learning disabilities may experience a higher risk of dementia because of premature ageing. Also, people with Down's syndrome have an increased genetic risk of developing dementia. Additional specialist support and services need to be provided to meet their increasing needs.
8. Dementia worldwide
- There are currently nearly 36 million people with dementia in the world.
- As many as 28 million of those living with dementia worldwide do not have a diagnosis.
- The numbers of people living with dementia worldwide is expected to double every 20 years.
- By 2050 it is projected there will be 115 million people with dementia worldwide, 71 per cent of whom will live in developing countries.
- The total estimated cost of dementia worldwide is US$604 billion (£380 billion)
- There are over 6 million people with dementia in Europe.
- A 2012 report by the World Health Organisation recognised that dementia is a global health challenge and called on countries to recognise this challenge and include dementia in public health planning.
9. The Society campaigns for:
- Health bodies authorities to research and record both the numbers and projected needs of all people with dementia in order to plan long term care services for them appropriately.
- All dementia services to be culturally sensitive. The needs of all people with dementia need to be met and person-centred care delivered.
- Full implementation of the UK National Dementia Strategies.
- Further collaboration with international partners to promote the exchange of information and practice. The Alzheimer's Society is a member of Alzheimer's International and Alzheimer Europe.
10. References and further information
Last updated: April 2013 by Chris Quince
Interactive map of dementia diagnosis and prevalence rates across the UK.
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Take a look at the key statistics about dementia from the Dementia 2013 report, represented in a visual way.
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