Why are dementia cases rising around the world?

There’s a growing number of people across the world suffering with dementia at present, with that figure set to rise significantly over the next few decades.

According to the World Health Organisation, 55 million people are living with the condition presently, and it’s believed that figure will come close to 140 million by 2050. But why is the number of people struggling with the condition rising at such a significant rate?

Dementia nursing homes are seeing more people come through their doors seeking daily care for their condition, one that there is currently no “cure” for.

As more people live with or are affected by the disease, we look into the reasons that could be triggering its rise.

Ageing Populations

Naturally, one of the primary drivers behind the increase in cases across the world is the global rise in life expectancy. Today, that figure is 71 years old. In 1980, that figure was 61 years old. In 2050, it’s expected to be over 77 years old.

Given that dementia is an age-related condition, there has been a natural spike as a result of people simply living longer.

Improved Diagnosis

Complementing this, as the world becomes more attuned to longer living and the science behind it, so does the diagnosis of diseases. Over the last few decades there has been significant progress in understanding the disease’s mechanisms, leading to the development of diagnosing it and the criteria attached to dementia.

This means it can be detected at a much earlier stage and as a result more cases are now being recorded, thus increasing the number of dementia cases across the world.

Lifestyle Factors

Outside of the more natural reasons, people are also more at risk due to various factors. The rise of obesity, smoking, poor diets all affect brain health and as a result increase the risk of dementia.

Other conditions that are more prevalent today, such as hypertension, diabetes and high cholestoral are also known risk factors of dementia, meaning our lifestyle choices are posing a significant risk.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors are also playing their part. Exposure to air pollution, heavy metals, and pesticides has been linked to an increased risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases.

As the world continues to become more polluted as industrialisation spreads, especially in densely populated areas, the long term impact of such pollutants could pose a concerning risk on a person’s brain health.

Societal Changes

Finally, social isolation is becoming more significant, particularly post-pandemic and has long been identified as a risk of dementia. What’s more, further down the line in a more digital world we may become less and less engaged with physical interaction which is breaking down family structures and decreasing mental stimulation which can cause problems further down the line.

Of course, as cases do grow, more and more research is being placed into Alzeheimers and dementia care, which will hopefully negate the continued risk it leads to and while a cure may not ever be found, making for a more comfortable and manageable life for those that do live with it may make it a disease we can start to live with more efficiently.