News Release

Worldwide Cost Estimate For Alzheimer's And Dementia Is US$315.4 Billion

24 March 2009

Study results suggest the true prevalence of dementia may be much higher than previously estimated, particularly in the world's least developed regions

Key plenary presentations at 24th Conference of Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI) address the global economic, social and personal impact of Alzheimer's and dementia, as well as new ways being developed to treat and prevent the devastating brain disorder.

Scientists at the conference report a worldwide societal cost estimate for dementia of US$315.4 billion, based on a worldwide prevalence estimate of 29.4 million people with dementia. Results from another study suggest that the true prevalence of dementia may be much higher than previously estimated, particularly in the world's least developed regions.

The 24th Conference of Alzheimer's Disease International is being held March 25-28, 2009, at the Suntec Singapore International Convention & Exhibition Centre, Suntec City, Singapore. Conference information, including program, registration, travel and accommodations, can be found at

Economic Impact of Dementia

"Economic Impact of Dementia" will be presented by Anders Wimo, MD, PhD, of the KI Alzheimer Disease Research Center, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden in a plenary presentation to be held Tuesday morning, March 26.

Due to the "greying of the world" and the increasing number of persons suffering from Alzheimer's and dementia, the costs of care and nursing of persons with dementia have an enormous economic impact on the healthcare and social services systems in advanced economies as well as in developing countries.

According to research conducted by Wimo and colleagues, the total worldwide societal cost of dementia is estimated to be US$315.4 billion in 2005, including US$105 billion for informal care, which is nonprofessional care, usually provided by family members (37 percent of the total). Seventy-seven (77) percent of the total costs occur in the more developed regions that have 46 percent of the prevalence. Worldwide prevalence may quadruple to nearly 120 million by 2050, according to Wimo.

The 2005 prevalence estimate for Singapore was 22,000 people with dementia. Indonesia, 600,000; Malaysia, 60,000; Myanmar, 130,000; Philippines, 175,000; Thailand, 250,000; Viet Nam, 275,000.

The estimate for total societal cost of dementia (direct costs plus informal care) in 2005 for Singapore was US$391 million. Indonesia, US$2,128 million; Malaysia, US$511 million; Myanmar, US$118 million; Philippines, US$601 million; Thailand, US$1,330 million; Viet Nam, US$751 million. At the ADI conference, Wimo will present additional regional and country specific cost estimates, alternative cost estimates of informal care, and new cost estimates for Europe from the Eurocode project.

"Worldwide costs for dementia are enormous," Wimo says. "In light of the rapidly growing future prevalence estimates, in particular in less developed regions, the economic impact of dementia is a great challenge for every society."

Direct costs as well as costs of informal care were estimated by combining prevalence estimates, country and region specific data on Gross Domestic Product per person, and average wage with results from previously published cost-of-illness studies in different countries.

The Global Impact of Dementia

At the conference, Professor Martin Prince, of the Centre for Public Mental Health, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College, London will address "The Global Impact of Dementia" in a plenary immediately after the talk by Professor Wimo. Prince leads the 10/66 Dementia Research Group (, which is working with Alzheimer's Disease International to provide an evidence base to guide policy development.

The 10/66 Dementia Research Group has completed cross-sectional surveys of 1,500 to 3,000 people over 65 years old in each of nine low and middle income countries (China, India, Nigeria, Cuba, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Mexico, and Peru), with three other studies still in process (Argentina, Puerto Rico and South Africa), for a total of more than 20,000 people. The 10/66 Dementia diagnosis* shows that the true prevalence of dementia may be much higher than previously estimated, particularly in the least developed regions.

* Pilot studies conducted by the 10/66 Group in 26 centers in Latin America, Africa, India, Russia and China demonstrated the feasibility and validity of a simple, one stage dementia diagnosis for use in population-based research, known as the "10/66 Dementia diagnosis."

"Dementia is overwhelmingly the most important contributor to needs for care and caregiver strain in all the locations we studied," Prince says. "Caregivers often cut back on work to care. There is a lack of awareness, health services are unresponsive, and many families do not seek, let alone receive, help."

The 10/66 Group has developed a low-level, brief caregiver education and training intervention, know as "Helping Carers to Care," which is now being evaluated in randomized trials in Russia, India, China and four Latin American centers. Prince will present encouraging early findings at the ADI conference.

"Earlier studies may have underestimated the prevalence of dementia in regions with low awareness of this emerging public health problem," Prince says. "Primary healthcare services and governments have failed to respond to families' complex needs for long-term support. Attention needs to be directed towards the development of age-appropriate healthcare, a long-term care policy, and mechanisms for ensuring, as a right, the social protection of older persons."

Prince adds, "Later this year, ADI will launch the first World Alzheimer Report alerting governments, policymakers and donors of the urgent need to give priority to these actions."

Can Lifestyle Prevent Alzheimer's?

Henry Brodaty, MD, DSc, Professor of Age Care Mental Health and Director of the Dementia Collaborative Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, Australia, will present a plenary talk on "Can lifestyle prevent Alzheimer's disease?" on Friday morning, March 27, 2009. He will directly address whether we can really "eat, drink, exercise, socialize and think our way out of Alzheimer's."

In recent years, there has been a great deal of conflicting information in this area. Research studies have reported protective effects against Alzheimer's and dementia for education; exercise; mental activities; foods and fluids rich in antioxidants and polyphenols such as fruit or vegetable juice, wine, green tea, and fish; and long-term use of certain medications, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, anti-cholesterol drugs and hormone replacement therapy.

On the other hand, high blood pressure, type II diabetes, obesity, high fat diets, high cholesterol, head injury, loneliness, lack of education, lack of exercise, depression, low birth weight for gestational age, and smaller head circumference have been found to be risk factors for Alzheimer's and dementia.

Brodaty's bottom line, "There is currently no absolute prevention against Alzheimer's. Until reports are confirmed by several groups around the world, consumers should be wary of media hyperbole. And, even where a risk or protective factor is significant in a large population study, this may only change the risk slightly for individuals."

"More research is definitely needed," Brodaty continued, "on topics such as how genetic and environment factors interact. For now, the best evidence we have for Alzheimer's prevention points to regular physical exercise, ongoing mental activity and blood pressure control. In general, what is good for your heart is good for your brain."

Emerging Treatment For Alzheimer's

Speaking immediately after Dr. Brodaty, Bengt Winblad, MD PhD, Professor of Geriatric Medicine at the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden and Chief Physician at Karolinska University in Huddinge will talk about "Emerging treatment for Alzheimer disease."

Winblad, an experienced leader of clinical trials, will discuss the progress of a number of drugs currently in the pipeline for Alzheimer's and dementia, including:

  • A new approach targeting mitochondrial function that has very positive early results.
  • Passive and active "vaccination" (immunotherapy) studies currently being performed.
  • Delivery of growth factors directly to the brain.

In addition, he will update attendees on the development and validation of biomarkers (a) to support the clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer's and dementia and (b) as indicators to follow treatment effects for disease modifying drugs.

24th Conference of Alzheimer's Disease International

The 24th Conference of Alzheimer's Disease International will be held March 25-28, 2009, at the Suntec Singapore International Convention & Exhibition Centre, Suntec City, Singapore. "Dementia: Engaging Societies Around the World" is jointly organized by London-based Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI) and Alzheimer's Disease Association, Singapore (ADA). For more information, please visit

Alzheimer's Disease International

Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI) is the international federation of 77 Alzheimer associations. It was founded in 1984 as a network for Alzheimer associations around the world to share and exchange information, resources and skills. ADI is based in London and is registered as a non-profit organization in the USA. ADI has been in official relations with the World Health Organization since 1996. Each member is the national Alzheimer association in their country who support people with dementia and their families. ADI's mission is to improve the quality of life of people with dementia and their families throughout the world.

Alzheimer's Disease Association, Singapore

The Alzheimer's Disease Association (ADA) was formed in 1990 as a result of growing concern for the needs of people with dementia and their families. ADA is a voluntary welfare organization and is made up of caregivers, professionals and all who are interested in dementia. In addition to groundbreaking local initiatives in dementia day care and caregiver support, ADA's other initiatives include the Early Dementia Program, training in Person Centered Care and Dementia Care Mapping, public education, advocacy and research support.