Dementia cases are expected 'to almost triple by 2050', according to a study.

The number of adults living with dementia internationally is predicted to triple from an estimated 57 million in 2019 to 153 million.

The rise is suggested to be as a result of population growth and ageing, researchers have said.

The Global Burden of Disease study suggested that cases will rise in every country with the largest growth being in North Africa and the Middle East (367%) and eastern sub-Saharan Africa (357%).

Herald Series: Elderly woman being supported. Credit: PAElderly woman being supported. Credit: PA

Looking at the UK, the increase is expected to be 75%, from just over 907,000 in 2019 to almost 1.6 million in 2050.

It is the first study to give forecast estimates for adults aged 40 and older across 195 countries worldwide and is published in The Lancet Public Health.

“Our study offers improved forecasts for dementia on a global scale as well as the country level, giving policymakers and public health experts new insights to understand the drivers of these increases, based on the best available data, " says Lead author Emma Nichols, from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington.

She added: “At the same time, we need to focus more on prevention and control of risk factors before they result in dementia.

“Even modest advances in preventing dementia or delaying its progression would pay remarkable dividends.

“To have the greatest impact, we need to reduce exposure to the leading risk factors in each country.

“For most, this means scaling up locally appropriate, low-cost programmes that support healthier diets, more exercise, quitting smoking, and better access to education.

“And it also means continuing to invest in research to identify effective treatments to stop, slow, or prevent dementia.”

What causes Dementia?

The study analysed four risk factors and the potential future impact on dementia including smoking, obesity, high blood sugar, and low education.

The improved access to education will help reduce global dementia levels by 6.2 million cases by 2050, scientists have suggested.

However, current trends in obesity, high blood sugar, and smoking will counteract the progress made here and will likely result in an additional 6.8 million dementia cases.

Researchers from the study have called for a more aggressive prevention strategy towards Dementia. 

This would include adapting our approach through lifestyle factors, education, diet, and exercise.

Dementia symptoms

The NHS has identified some early symptoms of Dementia but it is important to note that the condition can affect us all differently. 

These are the common early symptoms that the National Health Service has recognised.

  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Finding it hard to carry out familiar daily tasks, such as getting confused over the correct change when shopping
  • Struggling to follow a conversation or find the right word
  • Being confused about time and place
  • Mood changes

As the condition progresses, more advanced Dementia symptoms include "memory loss and difficulties with communication often become severe," according to the NHS.

The patient will likely neglect their own health needs and need constant care in the later stages.

For more information and where to find support, consult the NHS website.