Alzheimer's Society's view on demography

The number of people with dementia is steadily increasing. We believe that careful planning is needed.

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, Projections of older people with dementia and costs of dementia care in the United Kingdom, 2019-2040 (published in November 2019 and available to download as a PDF), 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.

This research was conducted by the Care Policy and Evaluation Centre (CPEC) at the London School of Economics and Political Science on behalf of Alzheimer’s Society.

Current number of people with dementia in the UK

Research conducted shows that, in 2019, there were over 850,000 people with dementia in the UK (Alzheimer’s Society, 2019).

This represents 1 in every 14 of the population aged 65 years and over. In 2015, there will be 856,700 people with dementia in the UK in 2015 at the current rate of prevalence.

Dementia by country

In 2019, 748,000 of the people in the UK with dementia will live in England, 46,000 in Wales, 66,000 in Scotland and 22,000 in Northern Ireland. 

Projected growth of dementia

If current trends continue and no action is taken, the number of people with dementia in the UK is forecast to increase to 1,000,000 by 2025 and 1,590,000 by 2040.

Many people talk about a 'dementia time bomb' that the state cannot cope with. This is misleading. A steady, rather than dramatic, growth is expected over the next 25 years.

Types of dementia

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:

Younger people and dementia

In 2013, there were 42,325 people with early-onset dementia (onset before the age of 65 years) in the UK.

People from Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups and dementia

In 2011, there were 25,000 people with dementia from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups in England and Wales (Alzheimer's Society, 2012). This number is expected to double to 50,000 by 2026 and rise to over 172,000 by 2051.

This is a nearly a seven-fold increase in 40 years, compared to just over a two-fold increase in the numbers of people with dementia across the whole UK population in the same time period.

Despite this, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia has found that people from BAME backgrounds are less likely to receive a diagnosis or support.

Due to lack of evidence, the prevalence figures for BAME have not been updated in 2014.

People with a learning disability and dementia

People with learning disabilities may have a higher risk of dementia because of premature ageing and, in the case of Down's syndrome, genetic factors.

As the population ages, additional specialist services will need to be provided to meet the needs of older people with learning disabilities and dementia.

Projections suggest that, by 2030, the number of people aged over 70 using services for people with learning disabilities will more than double (British Institute of Learning Disabilities, 2012).

Dementia worldwide

There are currently nearly 36 million people with dementia in the world but 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. There are over 6 million people with dementia in Europe.

The total estimated cost of dementia worldwide is US$604 billion (£380 billion).

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.

Last updated 30 June 2020

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