Figures released today in a report commissioned by Alzheimer’s Research UK suggest that almost 1 in 3 people will develop dementia in later life. The headline data appears worrying at first glance but a closer look into the datasets used to draw the conclusions of the report present a more nuanced picture. The report looked first at the likely life expectancy of children born in this decade and secondly at the occurrence of dementia today.
The report makes assumptions based on age and then links this to the current prevalence of dementia today. The intentions of Alzheimer’s Research UK are of course noble and expose the potential for a particularly debilitating crisis crippling healthcare services and the nation more broadly. Should the estimates come into being then this would see an increase from today’s estimates of 850,000 to a third of the ageing population in years to come which would see numbers in the region of millions of sufferers.
The ability to prolong life through better more advanced healthcare will continue to grow our aging population which will necessarily leave the ageing population at greater risk of developing dementia. The noble work of the Alzheimer’s Society in the UK and further afield is to be encouraged to combat this disease. A note of caution however should footnote any suggestion drawn from the report that the nation will turn into an ageing nation of dementia sufferers, the report presents the potential for such a scenario to develop.