Dementia is one of most significant health crises of the 21st century. We recently launched the World Alzheimer Report 2015, updating ADI's data on dementia's global prevalence, incidence and cost. The 2015 update reports a worrying 12-13% increase in global estimates of people living with dementia, compared to the original ADI estimates in the 2009 World Alzheimer Report.

Dementia also has a huge global, economic impact. Today, the total estimated worldwide cost of dementia is US $818billion. This means that if dementia care were a country, it would be the world’s 18th largest economy, exceeding the market values of companies such as Apple (US$ 742 billion) and Google (US$ 368 billion). It is expected to become a trillion dollar disease by 2018.

Over the past century, successes in improving standards of health and social care means many people around the globe are now living longer, especially in low and middle income countries (LMICs). It is these regions who will witness the largest increases, where the number of people living with dementia is set to more than treble, accounting for 68% of the total global prevalence by 2050.

How can we meet this challenge?

As such, we must now involve more countries and regions in the global action on dementia. Today, 72% of people living with dementia live in the G20 countries, compared to just 13% in the G7 nations. The G20 group of nations should now lead politically on this issue, building on the commitments made by the G7 group at the Global Action Against Dementia events.

For our part, ADI will continue to work closely with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to ensure that people living with dementia and their families are put at the centre of all policies in pursuit of better access to services and support. Globally, more money must be invested in research, with a more balanced distribution into programmes for risk reduction, treatment, care and cure.

A growing body of evidence now suggests that we can help to reduce our risk of dementia through reduction in tobacco use and better control and detection for hypertension and diabetes, as well as cardiovascular risk factors. A good mantra is “What is good for your heart is good for your brain”, so risk reduction should be made a public health priority, with a focus on tackling the shared risk factors with other non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like cancer and diabetes.

Global solutions for a global epidemic

Given the epidemic scale of dementia, we are calling on not only governments but every part of society to play an active role in helping to achieve a world where people living with dementia can enjoy a better quality of life today. It is vital we sustain the momentum of recent global collaboration, mobilising governments, policy makers, health care professionals, researchers, Alzheimer associations and society at large, to work together on a solution for the global challenge of dementia.

Providing a better quality of life for people with dementia around the world can be a reality, but only if governments and societies make it an urgent priority. We are committed to making this happen.