The number of dependent older people in the world will nearly treble to 277m by 2050, according to a new report, with almost half of those suffering from dementia.
Globally, the burden of dementia will spread to rapidly developing middle income countries like China and Brazil, where populations are ageing at historically unprecedented rates, according to Alzheimer's Disease International.
In their latest World Alzheimer Report, the organisation warns that the cost of the disease, currently more than £395bn, or around 1 per cent of global GDP, will rise to more than £690bn by 2050.
In high income countries, which currently have the greatest proportion of Alzheimer's disease, the costs of long-term care are set to double over the next 50 years as a proportion of GDP - from 1.2 per cent to 2.5 per cent for the 27 EU countries.
The report warns that tenfold increases in research funding are needed to help scientists and clinicians develop new methods of dementia prevention, treatment and care and recommends that health systems worldwide should be prepared to support carers within care homes and family settings.
Professor Martin Prince, from King's College London's Institute of Psychiatry and author of the report, said: “We need to value the unpaid contribution of family caregivers more, and reward paid caregivers better. We can build quality into our care systems, but to do so while containing costs and achieving equity of access for all will be a challenge.”
Healthcare systems and social care systems needed to work more closely in all countries, the report said. Integrating the NHS with the social care system has become a top priority in the UK in recent years, with the Government recently ring-fencing £3.8bn of funding aimed at joint schemes between NHS in England and local authorities to link up care systems for the elderly and vulnerable people.
Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society said that the report was a “wake up call to governments across the world.”