World Health Organization report on dementia 2012

Landmark data from the World Health Organization (WHO) and Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI) in their report Dementia: A Public Health Priority show that around the world a new case of dementia occurs every four seconds. That is the equivalent of 7.7 million new cases each year. In the words of global health expert Dr. Peter Piot, dementia is a ‘ticking time bomb.’

The report challenges world governments to replicate some of the solutions and approaches already adopted by countries to tackle the skyrocketing numbers of dementia affecting 35.6 million people worldwide.

To date, eight countries have created national Alzheimer’s plans: Australia, Denmark, France, Korea, the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom (within the UK, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland each have plans) and, most recently, the United States. In India and other countries, plans developed by “civil society” may shortly become government-endorsed.

FAQ’s about the WHO report
Media release

Why not Canada?

The Alzheimer Society is urging Canada to get on the world map and develop its own plan. In 2010, we sounded the alarm with our own seminal report, Rising Tide: The Impact of Dementia on Canadian Society.

In 2012, we released A new way of looking at the impact of dementia in Canada. Read about the sharp rise in the number of Canadians with cognitive impairment, including dementia.

Key findings

Key statistics from the WHO report include1:

  • The number of people living with dementia worldwide is currently estimated at 35.6 million. This number will double by 2030 and more than triple by 2050.
  • Between 2% and 10% of all cases of dementia start before the age of 65. The prevalence doubles with every five-year increment in age after 65.
  • The total estimated worldwide costs of dementia were US$ 604 billion in 2010. In high-income countries, informal care (45%) and formal social care (40%) account for the majority of costs, while the proportionate contribution of direct medical costs (15%) is much lower.
  • Dementia is one of the major causes of disability in later life. It accounts for 11.9% of the years lived with disability due to a noncommunicable disease. It is the leading cause of dependency (i.e. need for care) and disability among older people.


  1. World Alzheimer Report 2012, A public health priority. (2012). World Health Organization (WHO)

Last Updated: 04/14/14
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