DENVER (CBS4) – Those who study aging say we should prepare for a big increase in those who suffer from dementia. With older people living longer it could be a burden on caregivers.

It’s called the “long goodbye” mainly because we see the ones we love slowly forget that they love us too. More than five million people have some form of dementia in the U.S.

Researchers at King’s College London predict the number of cases of dementia will affect 135 million people worldwide over the next 40 years.

The study by Alzheimer’s Disease International found that many governments are woefully unprepared for an epidemic of dementia currently affecting 44 million people across the globe.

Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, is a fatal brain disease that has no cure and few effective treatments. Like other forms of the disorder, it affects memory, thinking and behavior and places a great burden on caregivers who are ill-equipped to deal with the challenges.

The following are some the devastating stats:

– Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.
– Last year 15.4 million caregivers provided more than 17.5 billion hours of unpaid care valued at $216 billion.
– Nearly 15 percent of caregivers for people with Alzheimer’s or another dementia are long-distance caregivers.
– In 2013 Alzheimer’s will cost the nation $203 billion. This number is expected to rise to $1.2 trillion by 2050.

Leaders from the G-8 are meeting in London next week for a special summit on dementia. Currently there are only 13 countries that have national dementia plans.

Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability, which is severe enough to interfere with daily life. Loss of memory is an example of that. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia.


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