Facts and stats

The facts and statistics around dementia in the UK, including prevalence, the impact on the economy and investment.

For full references to the statistics below please see this document.

Alzheimer’s Research UK

  • Alzheimer’s Research UK is the UK’s leading dementia research charity. As research experts, we fund world-class pioneering scientists to find preventions, treatments and a cure for dementia.
  • Since Alzheimer’s Research UK was established in 1997, we have committed 58 million to research and awarded over 540 grants.
  • In 2014 we committed over £7 million to research and awarded over 60 grants, this takes our current commitment to research to over £23 million and 125 grants.

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The diseases that cause dementia

  • Dementia is not a disease in itself, it is a word used to describe a group of symptoms that occur when brain cells stop working properly.
  • The most common disease that causes dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, which affects around two thirds of people with dementia.
  • After Alzheimer’s, the most common causes of dementia are vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies and frontotemporal dementia.
  • It is possible to have more than one of these diseases at the same time, for example Alzheimer’s is sometimes seen with vascular dementia or dementia with Lewy bodies. This can be called ‘mixed dementia’.
  • Dementia in people under 65 years old is called early-onset dementia, the most common causes are early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal dementia.

Prevalence

  • There are 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK today (1.3 per cent), a number forecast to rise rapidly as the population ages, including over 700,000 people in England, over 45,000 in Wales, 70,000 people in Scotland and nearly 20,000 in Northern Ireland.
  • Over 40,000 people under 65 years of age have dementia.
  • By 2025, the number is expected to rise to over one million. By 2050, it is projected to exceed 2 million.
  • In the UK it is estimated that 62 per cent of people with dementia are female and 38 percent are male.
  • Dementia is the leading cause of death among women in the UK with 12.2 per cent (31,850) of deaths per year attributed directly to the condition. Dementia is the third leading cause of death among men with 6.2 per cent (15,262) of deaths per year directly attributed to it.
  • In 2013 there were over 44 million people worldwide with dementia. This is predicted to increase to over 75 million by 2030 and over 135 million by 2050.
  • The idea that illnesses like Alzheimer’s are a disease of rich developed nations is a myth: 62 per cent of people with dementia live in low and middle income countries, while 32 per cent of people with dementia live in G8 countries and 38 per cent live in high income countries.

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Diagnosis rates

  • The Department of Health estimates that 59 per cent of people with dementia in England have a formal diagnosis.
  • Provisional Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) figures show 344,000 patients in England had a recorded diagnosis of dementia in 2013-14. This is a rise from 319,000 in 2012-13 and from 213,000 in 2006-07, this represents a 62 per cent increase in 7 years.
  • It is estimated that in 2011, 28 million of the world’s 36 million people with dementia had not received a diagnosis.
  • Currently less than 50 per cent of those in high income countries and fewer than 10 per cent in Low to Middle Income Countries have received a dementia diagnosis.

People in clinical research

  • In 2012/13 the number of people with dementia involved in clinical studies was 11,859 (3.7 percent), this was forecasted to increase to 13,400 (4.4 percent) in 2013/14.
  • If diagnosed with a medical condition or disease, 89 per cent of people would be willing to take part in clinical research, with 3 per cent saying they would not consider it.
  • 95 per cent of people say it was important to them that the NHS carries out clinical research.

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Impact

Impact on people

  • People with dementia have a lower self-reported quality of life than both the population as a whole and those over 65, and this gets progressively worse as the severity of the condition develops.
  • Dementia is now the most feared condition amongst people over 55 years in the UK. Overall it is the second most feared condition across adults.
  • 24.5 million people in the UK, 38 per cent of the population, know a family member or friend with dementia.
  • There are approximately 670,000 primary carers caring for people with dementia, it is estimated they save the UK economy £11 billion annually.

Impact on the economy

  • Dementia costs the UK economy over £24 billion a year, this is a combination of health and care costs and the contribution made by primary carers.
  • By 2025 it is expected dementia will cost the UK economy £32.5 billion and by 2050 it could be costing the UK economy £59.4 billion at today’s prices.

The impact of delaying the onset of dementia if by 2020 we could delay the onset of dementia in people by 2 years:

  • By 2030 there would be 184,000 fewer people with dementia and 156,000 fewer informal carers. Dementia would cost the economy £5.9 billion less, £32.2 billion compared to £38.1 billion.
  • By 2050 there would be 383,000 fewer people with dementia and 325,000 fewer informal carers. Dementia would cost the economy £12.9 billion less, £46.5 billion compared to £59.4 billion.

If by 2020 we could delay the onset of dementia in people by 5 years:

  • By 2030 there would be 469,000 (36 per cent) fewer people with dementia and 399,000 (36 per cent) fewer informal carers. Dementia would cost the economy £14.1 billion less, £24 billion compared to £38.1 billion.
  • By 2050 there would be 666,000 (33 per cent) fewer people with dementia and 566,000 (33 per cent) fewer informal carers by 2050. Dementia would cost the economy £21.2 billion less, £38.2 billion compared to £59.4 billion.

The impact of slowing progression of dementia if by 2020 we could slow progression of dementia:

  • By 2050 only 2 per cent of people would be living with severe dementia, compared to 14 per cent without an intervention.
  • By 2050 more people would be living with dementia but they would be living longer in the earlier stages and have a better quality of life.
  • If progression could be slowed by 50 per cent, in 2050 the total costs would be approximately £55.2 billion, which would be a saving to the UK economy of £4.2 billion compared to costs without a treatment.

Impact of lifestyle factors

  • There is increasing evidence that certain lifestyle factors may help to reduce the risk of developing dementia. Currently around a third of Alzheimer’s disease cases worldwide can be attributed to potentially modifiable risk factors such as diabetes, midlife hypertension, midlife obesity, physical inactivity, depression, smoking and low educational attainment.
  • The current prevalence of dementia in the UK is lower than previously estimated and it has been suggested this is due to the impact of improved lifestyle factors.

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Investment

Public and charitable investment in dementia

  • The Government has committed to increasing investment in dementia research to £66 million by 2015.
  • Government’s expenditure on dementia research in 2012/13 was £52.9 million, an increase of £7.5 million from 2011/12. 3 per cent of the UK Government’s funding in medical research is spent on dementia.
  • In 2012/13 UK charities spent £20.9 million on dementia research, this is just over 1 per cent of the total £1.3 billion medical research charities invested in Research and Development.
  • The combined investment in dementia research from charities and Government was £73.8 million in 2012/13, this was an increase from £64.6 million in 2011/12.
  • In 2012/13 combined government and charitable spend on cancer research was 7 times higher than for dementia research, £503 million was invested in cancer research compared to £74 million for dementia research.

UK medical research and life sciences investment

  • The Government invests over £1.7 billion a year in medical research with £52.9 million (3 per cent) invested in dementia research in the UK.
  • Medical research is the UK’s most popular cause with approximately 11.2 million people donating every month.
  • Medical research is a key contributor to economic growth in the UK and has a positive impact on GDP, it is estimated that the GDP gains from increased public and charitable medical research deliver an additional rate of return of ~30 per cent.
  • It is estimated that for every charity and taxpayer £1 invested into cancer-related research, there is a return of 40p to the UK every year.
  • For every £1 increase in public funding for medical research it can generate up to £5 of investment by the pharmaceutical industry.

Overall UK science and research investment

  • In 2015/16 the overall Government investment in science and research will be £5.8 billion. The Government has also committed to investing £1.1 billion in real terms into science infrastructure to 2021.
  • In 2012 the research and development expenditure in the UK was 1.72 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a decrease from 1.77 per cent in 2011.
  • The UK is amongst the lowest investors in Research and Development (R&D) compared to other EU countries, with international comparisons showing that UK R&D expenditure in 2012 was below the EU-28 estimate of 2.06 per cent of GDP. It is also 1.28 per cent lower than the EU target of 3 per cent of GDP by 2020.