There are 101 million people globally who suffer today from dementia, but by 2050 that number will have almost tripled to 277 million. That statistic comes from a new report by Alzheimer’s Disease International aimed at showing just how serious our long-term care challenges are. Reuters has more:
Even now, the worldwide cost of dementia care is more than $600 billion, or around 1.0 percent of global gross domestic product, and that can only increase, ADI’s report said.As the world population ages, the traditional system in the United States, Europe and around the world of “informal” care by family, friends, and community will require much greater support, it said. […]ADI says research budgets for work on dementia, its causes, treatment and care, need to increase ten-fold to mitigate the impact of the rise in cases.
The long-term care crisis is a particularly serious aspect of the overall challenges facing our health care system. To the extent that we can innovate new service delivery platforms and harness consumer power to streamline the entire system, long-term care will benefit. But eldercare also presents challenges that will persist even if we make progress along these lines. To meet those leftover challenges will require cultural shifts to new kinds of intergenerational living and communal caregiving arrangements.If we haven’t figured these things out by 2050—the cultural shifts as well as the technical solutions—things will be very bleak indeed. Fortunately history has shown again and again that human ingenuity can rise to the occasion and prune back the thorniest problems.