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Alzheimer's Disease



 Alzheimer's Disease Defined
Source: NIH Senior Health

Dementia is a brain disorder that seriously affects a person's ability to carry out daily activities. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia among older people. It involves the parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language. Every day scientists learn more, but right now the causes of Alzheimer's disease are still unknown, and there is no cure


 Causes and Risk Factors

Scientists do not yet fully understand what causes Alzheimer's disease. There probably is not one single cause, but several factors that affect each person differently. Age is the most important known risk factor for Alzheimer's disease. The number of people with the disease doubles every 5 years beyond age 65.


 Symptoms and Diagnosis

Alzheimer's disease begins slowly. At first, the only symptom may be mild forgetfulness. People with Alzheimer's disease may have trouble remembering recent events, activities, or the names of familiar people or things. Simple math problems may become hard to solve. Such difficulties may be a bother, but usually they are not serious enough to cause alarm.


Treatments and Research

Alzheimer's disease is a slowly developing disease, starting with mild memory problems and ending with severe brain damage. The course the disease takes and how fast changes occur vary from person to person. On average, Alzheimer's disease patients live from 8 to 10 years after they are diagnosed, though the disease can last for as many as 20 years.

Frequently Asked Questions

Source: NIH Senior Health


 Related Links


NIH:  Alzheimer disease

 What is Alzheimer

AARP: What is Alzheimer disease?

Preparing for an Aging World

Caregivers Guide to Understanding Dimentia Behaviors

 Caregivers Guide to Medication and Aging

Caring for Adults with Cognitive and Memory Impairment

 Progress Report on Alzheimer Disease 2003





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Alzheimer’s Disease International
World Alzheimer Report 2012
Overcoming the stigma of dementia


Full report (PDF)




Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) has released
three previous World Alzheimer Reports:

• In 2009 on the global prevalence and impact of
• In 2010 on the global economic cost of the disease
• In 2011 on the benefits of early diagnosis and

We also worked with the World Health Organization
(WHO) on their report Dementia: a public health priority,
which was released in April 2012.

We estimate that there were 36 million people living with
dementia worldwide in 2010, increasing to 66 million
by 2030 and 115 million by 2050 1. Nearly two-thirds
live in low and middle income countries, where the
sharpest increases in numbers are set to occur as elderly
populations increase.

We estimate the global cost of dementia in 2010 at $604
billion 5. This is 1% of global GDP and it is likely that
these costs will increase in proportion to the number
of people with dementia. In lower income countries the
cost of health and social care may go up more rapidly, as
awareness and demand for services increases

The WHO Dementia report estimates there were 7.7
million new cases of dementia in the year 2010, or one
new case every four seconds 3. That is already three
times as many as HIV/AIDS (2.6 million per year 4).

Assuming that incidence will increase in line with
prevalence, since global ageing is driving both numbers,
by 2050 the incidence will have increased to 24.6 million
new cases annually. The average annual increase
between 2010 and 2050 will be 16.15 million.

This means we will have 646 million new cases in these
40 years on top of the current 36 million, unless there is a
cure or a treatment that delays the onset or progression of
the disease.

682 million people will live with dementia in the next
40 years! That is significantly more than the population
of all of North America (542 million) and nearly as much
as all of Europe (738 million) 5.

Our healthcare and financial systems are not prepared
for this epidemic.

Dementia is the main cause of
dependency in older people 1, and we will not have
enough people to care for these large numbers of
people with dementia. Globally, less than 1 in 4 people
with dementia receive a formal diagnosis 6.
Without a diagnosis, few people receive appropriate care,
treatment and support.

Looking at this data, it is apparent that there is an urgent
need for action. There is no time to lose! But not enough
is being done. Research funding from public sources
in high income countries is at a level of 10% of current
cancer research 7.

Stigma is something which causes an individual to be classified by others in an undesirable, rejected
stereotype. Misconceptions of dementia and the people
who are affected by it are a problem around the world.

Stigma prevents people from acknowledging symptoms
and obtaining the help they need. It causes individuals
and organisations to behave in ways that are unhelpful,
emphasising the symptoms of dementia rather than
supporting the abilities that people with dementia have.
At ADI, we believe it is a barrier to improving dementia
care and furthering research.

As Professor Peter Piot says in his essay in this report, ‘Overcoming stigma is the first step to beating Alzheimer’s disease and dementiaTo learn more about the stigma of dementia and open a broader discussion about it, we have carried out a survey among the experts: the people with dementia and their family carers.

We asked a number of people directly affected by the disease or working in the field to write essays and we reviewed relevant literature.

We brought together good examples of projects and activities around the world that we believe can reduce stigma.
We hope that this World Alzheimer Report 2012 will encourage others to join us in identifying and eliminating stigma, and, in turn, improve the lives of people with dementia
and their carers.

Marc Wortmann
Executive Director
Alzheimer’s Disease International

1 Alzheimer’s Disease International. World Alzheimer Report 2009. London : Alzheimer’s Disease International, 2009.
2 Wimo, A and Prince, M. World Alzheimer Report 2010: The Global Economic Impact of Dementia. London : Alzheimer’s Disease International, 2010.
3 World Health Organization. Dementia: a public health priority. Geneva : World Health Organization, 2012. ISBN 978-92-4-156445-8.
4 UN Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS. Global Report: UNAIDS Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic: 2010. 2010. ISBN 978-92-9173-871-7.
5 Continent. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. [Online] 29 August 2012. [Cited: 30 August 2012.]
6 Prince, M, Bryce, R and Ferri, C. World Alzheimer Report 2011. London : Alzheimer’s Disease International, 2011.
7 National Institutes of Health. Estimates of Funding for Various Research, Condition, and Disease Categories (RCDC) FY2011. NIH Research Portfolio



What is dementia?

Dementia is a syndrome that can be caused by
a number of progressive illnesses that affect
memory, thinking, behaviour and the ability to
perform everyday activities.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type
of dementia. Other types include vascular
dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies and
frontotemporal dementia.

Dementia mainly affects older people, although
there is a growing awareness of cases that start
before the age of 65. After age 65, the likelihood
of developing dementia roughly doubles every five

A more detailed overview of dementia can be
found in the World Alzheimer Report 2009,
available from


The World Alzheimer Reports

This report is one of a series that ADI has published. Each report covers a different topic.

The World Alzheimer Report 2009 contains a
comprehensive global study of the prevalence of
dementia and looks at levels of mortality, disability,
strain on carers and dependency. The report also
includes an overview of what dementia is and
examples of good national dementia plans and
health service responses.

The World Alzheimer Report 2010 provides
the most comprehensive picture yet of the
global economic impact of Alzheimer’s disease
and dementia and includes an estimate of the
worldwide cost of dementia, including direct
medical costs, direct non-medical costs and costs
of informal (family) care.

The World Alzheimer Report 2011 looks at the
benefits of early diagnosis and intervention, based
on the first-ever systematic review of the evidence
on early diagnosis and early intervention for

The reports are available free from


Dementia is not the first illness and likely will not be the last where the conversation and debate around stigma will be necessary. Everyone talks about the stigma of dementia, but it can be described broadly and on multiple levels. Particularly on a global level, what it means to have dementia can change from the government policy level to regional and organisational levels to the family and individual level.

Understanding the causes and potential solutions at each level is important.

Government and non-government organisations in some countries have been working tirelessly to pass laws aimed
at eliminating discriminatory practices such as making people with dementia eligible for disability schemes. Regional
organisations within countries have worked with local governments to improve access to services and delay entry to residential care, most of the time by trying to reduce stigma amongst family carers and health and social service professionals through increased education and regulations.

At the heart of this report are the individuals with dementia and their family carers. Each faces and experiences stigma
differently.Stigma is an attribute, behaviour or reputation
which is socially discrediting in a particular way:
it causes an individual to be mentally classified
by others in an undesirable, rejected stereotype
rather than in an accepted, normal one.’ 1

Identifying stigma is important because 36 million people
have dementia worldwide and – despite the best efforts
in early diagnosis, treatments, care and support being
offered by countries around the world – we all struggle
with the same basic issue: stigma prevents people from
acknowledging symptoms and obtaining the help they
need to continue to live a good quality of life.

Through this report, we hope to:
• Provide background on stigma and dementia
• Share results from a worldwide survey conducted with
people with dementia and carers on their personal
experiences of stigma
• Highlight best practices in the field of dementia and
make recommendations which could help reduce

We have also included a selection of essays from those
with expertise or experience relevant to the topic. In
preparing this report, we found that the literature on
stigma in dementia was very limited, and we hope that
the publication of this World Alzheimer Report 2012 will
stimulate discussion, research, and action to reduce the
stigma of dementia