By 2050, campaigners say. The number of older people needing care globally is set to to grow to three times the size.
“This report is a wake-up call to governments across the world about the immediate need to put in place more care and support” – Alzheimer’s Society UK
Currently 101 million people require care, but a study from Alzheimer’s Disease International warns the figure will rise to to 277 million.
Many needing care have dementia, plus the report warns there will be a “global Alzheimer’s epidemic”.
The report’s author said countries like China and India is going to be hard hit – and must critically start planning services now.
Alzheimer’s is among the most common cause of dementia. Symptoms include memory loss, mood changes, and difficulties with communicating and reasoning.
Over 35 million people live with dementia worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Over fifty percent are living in low and middle income countries.
The report explains that as the world population age grows older, the traditional system of informal care by family and the community will need much better support.
Approximately one in 10 people aged 60 or over needs long-term care, according to the report. This includes everyday help with things like eating, dressing and personal hygiene activity.
It can put serious stress and pressure on families. Carers often have to give up jobs to look after elderly loved ones.
‘Older people left behind’
Treating and caring for people with dementia at the moment costs the world more than £376bn per year. Which includes the cost of health and social care as well as the reduction in earnings.
Prof Martin Prince, from King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, the report’s author, said lower and middle income countries including China and India need toquickly start planning services to deal with the “crisis”.
“The cultural and financial changes happening in those countries are surely going to mean that family carers will be less available.
“Things like the decrease in fertility rates mean people are going to have fewer number of children.
“Better educated women are also so are more likely to join the paid workforce and are going to be unlikely to be available to provide care.”
And he said an increase in urban migration between countries amongst younger people meant there would be a lot of older people “left behind”.
The report makes a range of suggestions including giving paid and unpaid carers “appropriate financial rewards” and monitoring the care quality both in care homes and in the community.
A representative for the Alzheimer’s Society in the UK said: “Dementia is the biggest health dilemma facing the world today.
“This report is a wake-up call to governments across the world about the important need to put in place more care and support.
“The UK government’s G8 summit on dementia this year will be a crucial opportunity to rally assistance from world leaders to deal with dementia together. We need to see political leadership to avert a rsing global crisis,” the representative added.