More than 35 million people worldwide live with dementia today, according to a new report. By 2050, that number is expected to more than triple to 115 million. The majority require constant care; they're dependent -- and that dependence can impact their loved ones in unmeasurable ways.
"People with dementia have special needs for care," a new report from Alzheimer's Disease International says. "They need more personal care, more hours of care, and more supervision, all of which is associated with greater caregiver strain, and higher costs."
The 2013 World Alzheimer's Report, titled "Journey of Care," examines global trends related to older people who need dementia care, including those with Alzheimer's disease.
People with Alzheimer's live on average four to eight years after they're diagnosed, but some may live 20 years beyond their initial diagnosis.
Caregivers, whether they're family or professionals, often do demanding work with minimal training or preparation. They're also underpaid and undervalued. Professional caregivers usually earn minimum wage and often report poor job satisfaction. Family members, of course, earn nothing and make many personal sacrifices to care for a loved one.
"Because of the progressive nature of the disease and the length of its duration, Alzheimer's care needs only escalate, often to the point of impacting the caregiver's own health," Angela Geiger, chief strategy officer of the Alzheimer's Association, said in a statement.
And the problem is getting worse. Increasing life expectancies and an aging population are creating a group of seniors that's bigger than the working-age population that supports them, the report says. Approximately 4% of the population in developed countries now is currently over the age of 80; in 2050, experts predict, that number will rise to 10%.
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