As we age, the risk of developing dementia increases. A healthy lifestyle helps reduce this risk. | Image: Kmat / AdobeStock
There will be significantly more dementia patients in the near future. The reason for this is that people are getting older and older thanks to better living conditions. How to lower your own risk of getting sick, writes the World Health Organization (WHO).
The number of dementia patients is set to rise rapidly, according to a study by the World Health Organization (WHO). By 2030, around 40 percent more people worldwide are expected to be living with dementia than today. According to estimates, around 55 million people worldwide were affected in 2019. According to the German Federal Ministry of Health, there are about 1.6 million people living with dementia in Germany.
Life change reduces risk of dementia
The positive message: many people could significantly reduce their risk of developing dementia – for example, through a healthier lifestyle, good schooling and intact social contacts. "Schooling builds brain reserves," said WHO expert Katrin Seeher. As risk factors for dementia it called overweight, high blood pressure, diabetes, depressions and social isolation. Smoking and drinking alcohol are also part of it, according to WHO data. Protecting the brain, such as wearing helmets during certain activities, also curbs the risk of dementia, Seeher said.
As age increases, so does risk
One of the main reasons for the rising numbers is the fact that, thanks to better living conditions, people are getting significantly older than previous generations. Age generally increases risk of noncommunicable diseases, including dementia. "Dementia robs millions of memory, independence and dignity, but it also robs the rest of us of the people we know and love," said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Good to know: What is dementia?
Dementia is usually a progressive disease in the course of which those affected lose cognitive abilities, for example in memory, orientation and language, understanding, learning, planning and estimating. Emotional and social skills can also be slowly lost. This happens more often with advancing age, but diseases or injuries can also trigger changes in the brain and thus dementia, including strokes, accidents or Alzheimer’s disease.
WHO praises German dementia strategy
WHO presents national dementia strategy developed in Germany since 2019 as a good example. It aims to ensure that people with dementia remain "at the center of society," according to the report. She also praises regional Alzheimer’s associations for their efforts during Corona pandemic. They would have created informational materials, podcasts and videos to support people with dementia and their caregivers in the period.
Interest in dementia drug research has declined after many disappointing clinical trials, WHO writes. However, the U.S., for example, has increased its annual investment in Alzheimer’s research from $631 million in 2015 to $2.8 billion (about 2.4 billion. Euro) 2020 expanded. Source: dpa/mia