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A new study, shared at the 2021 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Denver, predicts that the number of dementia cases will nearly triple worldwide by 2050. While the research is preliminary at this stage, the statistics highlight a disturbing upward trend in the already vast number of people living with dementia.

During the conference, researchers with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington School of Medicine shared that several factors go into their prediction that the number of people living with dementia will hover around 152 million by 2050. Positive factors, such as global education access, will likely decrease diagnosis numbers by 6.2 million per year. However other negative trends such as smoking, high body mass index and high blood sugar are predicted to increase these statistics by 6.8 million cases.

Additionally, the researchers shared that the highest increase in these numbers is expected to be focused in less developed countries such as eastern sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and the Middle East.

Alzheimer’s Association Chief Science Officer Maria C. Carrillo, Ph.D., explained, “Improvements in lifestyle in adults in developed countries and other places — including increasing access to education and greater attention to heart health issues — have reduced incidence in recent years, but total numbers with dementia are still going up because of the aging of the population. In addition, obesity, diabetes and sedentary lifestyles in younger people are rising quickly, and these are risk factors for dementia.”

According to the National Institute on Aging, by the year 2050 around 16 percent of the world’s population will be 65 or older. This is a big increase compared to 2010 when just 8 percent were 65 or older.

These findings reinforce the urgency to support research to find long-term solutions to the growing population living with dementia. There is not yet a cure for dementia, but in the immediate future, we can make a difference in so many lives. Consider this our call to create safe, loving, dementia-aware spaces that people can thrive in once receiving a diagnosis. If you’re just beginning on our caregiving journey, I invite you to join my campaign to spread dementia awareness to caregivers, individuals and beyond. Together, we can take a loving approach to dementia care.

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