The Cost of Dementia

in News
March 7th, 2011

When a neuroscientist is asked about Alzheimer’s research, some of the first things that may come to mind are genetic predispositions, amyloid plaques, and tau proteins. One may think of researchers in labs running experiments on cultures of cells, or slice studies from brains of those affected with the disease. However, there is a whole other world of research being conducted on Alzheimer’s that I’m sure escapes many scientists’ minds.

Every year, the Alzheimer’s Disease International organization looks into the worldwide, monetary costs of the disease, and their findings are published in the annual World Alzheimer Report. The purpose of their study is to bring to attention the cost of dementia not only for families, but also for entire nations. They proceed to make recommendations on future steps for how to handle this worldwide epidemic. This past year, their study produced some remarkable results; some of the most thought provoking are listed below.

– It is estimated that there are 35.6 million people worldwide living with dementia.
– The prevalence of dementia is on the rise at a more drastic incline in low and middle-income countries than high-income countries.
– If dementia care were a country, it would be the world’s 18th largest economy, ranking between Turkey and Indonesia
– If it were a company, it would be the world’s largest by annual revenue (US$600 billion) exceeding Wal-Mart (US$414 billion) and Exxon Mobil (US$311 billion)
– These costs account for around 1% of the world’s gross domestic product, varying from 0.24% in low-income countries, to 0.35% in low middle-income countries, 0.50% in high middle-income countries, and 1.24% in high-income countries.

These are only a few of the many incredible facts that the World Alzheimer’s Report publish, which will hopefully make a greater number of people aware of the importance of scientific research on neurological diseases. Research is not only important for the sake of the patients’ health, but for their families, and for the worldwide economy.

For the entire report, including tables and figures, click here.

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