Number of people with dementia to more than double by 2050

Alzheimer society claims rise will lead to ‘full-blown public health crisis’

An MRI image of  an Alzheimer patient’s brain. People diagnosed with the disease in Ireland will increase from an estimated 55,000 in 2018, to 141,200 people by 2050. Photograph: Getty Images

An MRI image of an Alzheimer patient’s brain. People diagnosed with the disease in Ireland will increase from an estimated 55,000 in 2018, to 141,200 people by 2050. Photograph: Getty Images

 

The number of people living with dementia in Ireland is to more than double by 2050 in line with the country’s growing older population, according to a new report.

People diagnosed with the disease will increase from an estimated 55,000 in 2018, to 141,200 people by 2050.

A report published on Tuesday by Alzheimer Europe found that while the prevalence of dementia in the population is decreasing, Europe’s ageing population would lead to a significant increase in the number of people with the disease in coming decades.

Tina Leonard, Alzheimer Society of Ireland head of advocacy, said the projected increase would have serious implications for care services for dementia patients in Ireland.

“The overall picture is extremely stark as Ireland now faces a full-blown public health crisis with a predicted 141,200 people living with dementia in Ireland by 2050,” she said.

“This will exert extreme pressure on stretched dementia supports and services which are already in a state of crisis. The new government must finally tackle the crisis in dementia care,” Ms Leonard said.

Range of conditions

Dementia is the name given to a range of conditions affecting the brain, including Alzheimer’s disease, which can affect memory, language, and the ability to carry out day to day tasks.

The Alzheimer Europe report found that people with dementia made up just over 1 per cent of the population in 2018, but that rate was set to increase to 2.49 per cent by 2050.

One major factor behind the expected increase in dementia cases over the next 30 years would be large increases in the number of people living to over 60 and 85.

The society said there are 11,000 new cases of dementia in Ireland each year. And that the projected increase required the health service to “substantially invest in dementia care”, to avoid intense pressure on services in the coming years.

“There is a crisis in dementia care and access to community dementia-specific services across Ireland depends on where you live and no county in Ireland has even a minimum level of support,” the society added.