Dementia as Growing Public Health Issue

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Estimates say that starting now, the number of people around the world who have dementia will double every 20 years. That means today's caseload of 35 million victims will balloon to 70 million by 2030, then leap to an astounding 115 million by 2050. The news is in a report out yesterday from Alzheimer's Disease International. (Read the report's Executive Summary [PDF, 24 pages, 746KB])

We're left wondering: is the United States prepared for this increase? And why haven't we heard about this before now? We speak to David Shenk, author of the book "The Forgetting: Alzheimer's: Portrait of an Epidemic," and Renee Packel, a 73-year-old caregiver whose husband has Alzheimer's.

"He was an attorney, he was a very, very brilliant man. Now he's just a shell. He really cannot follow any conversation...He can't see a glass in front of him because it doesn't just affect your memory: it affects how you see, how you think. He basically has to be cared for all the time."
—Renee Packel, 73-year-old caregiver whose husband has Alzheimer's on her husband's condition