The increasing number of patients will lead to a “looming national health crisis”, according to the independent Office of Health Economics (OHE) researchers.
Around one in six people who are older than 80 years of age suffer from dementia, which is most commonly caused by Alzheimer’s, which results in a loss of brain cells and affects the functioning of the brain.
“The dementia-related health services are creaking as it is, and we already have a crisis in social care. As rates increase, it is only going to exert more pressure on an already troubled system,” the Independent quoted Dr. Matthew Norton, head of policy at Alzheimer’s Research UK, as saying.
Around 850,000 Britons currently suffer from the disease, and this number is expected to reach one million in 10 years; the number will double again by 2051.
Given varying projections with respect to life expectancy and when the onset of dementia will occur, one thing is clear: the UK's National Health Service will be overburdened with patients, as the latest research revealed on World Alzheimer’s Day.
The report, however, excludes patients who develop dementia below the age of 60, making the findings “potentially conservative”.
Dr. Norton calls for additional funding for dementia research, saying it’s “the only way to make a big difference to numbers”.
The UK spent 101.07 mln euros on dementia research in 2012 while 688.57 mln euros have been appropriated for cancer research, leaving dementia research “desperately underfunded”, the Alzhiemer’s Society stressed.
“Dementia is our greatest medical challenge and if we are to beat it, we must invest in research to find new treatments and preventions,” Dr. Norton claimed.
Alzheimer’s Research UK has previously published reports, according to which dementia cases could be reduced by a third if treatment was available which would postpone the onset of the disease by five years.
Dementia currently has no cure and only a handful of drugs are available to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer's; patients face a grim future of relying on long-term state hospital admissions or family members to provide permanent care.