At a European Parliament lunch debate on 18 February, hosted by Christophe Hansen MEP, Alzheimer Europe (AE) launched a new report presenting updated prevalence rates for dementia in Europe.
The Alzheimer Europe Yearbook 2019 adds to growing international evidence that healthier lifestyles are reducing the overall prevalence rate of dementia. This is fantastic news.
Yet, while the research found a reduction in the prevalence of dementia, it suggests the number of people with dementia is set to double by 2050. The number of people living with dementia in the European Union (EU27) is estimated to be 7,853,705, and in European countries represented by AE members that number totals 9,780,678. In 30 years, however, those numbers will have risen to 14,298,671 and 18,846,286 respectively.
As other studies have shown, women are disproportionately affected by dementia, with 6,650,228 women and 3,130,449 men living with dementia across Europe today.
The Yearbook also highlighted significant limitations in the available research into dementia prevalence and a lack of research into the prevalence of early onset, the prevalence of different types of dementia, the number of people affected by different stages of dementia including mild cognitive impairment, and the prevalence of dementia of people from ethnic minority groups.
Commenting on the findings, AE’s Executive Director, Jean Georges, said: “It is promising to see that healthier lifestyles, better education and improved control of cardiovascular risk factors seem to have contributed to a reduction of the prevalence of dementia. However, our report also demonstrates that the number of people living with the condition is set to increase substantially in the years ahead, which will only place greater pressure on care and support services unless better ways of treating and preventing dementia are identified. If people with dementia, their families and carers are to receive the high-quality and person-centred care they need, governments must ensure their health and care systems are ready to meet this demand and greater investments in research into the treatment and prevention of dementia are needed.”