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Alzheimer's scourge hangs over ill-prepared Asia

Posted Jul 02 2010 12:00am
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(Reuters) - Asia's fast-aging population will make up more than half of the world's dementia patients in 40 years, with China shouldering the biggest chunk.

Health | China

With very few skilled nursing homes, daycare facilities or plans to build many more, health experts say the region is ill-prepared to cope with the sharp increase in patients needing such specialized and intensive care.

"Asia will bear the burden because of the aging population in China ... figures in China will be tremendous," Dr. David Dai, coordinator of the Hong Kong Alzheimer's Disease Association.

"We are not prepared. The whole of southeast Asia is not prepared," gerontologist Dai said in an interview.

More than 35 million people suffer from Alzheimer's disease (AD) and other forms of dementia, a number expected to almost double by 2030 and pass 115 million by 2050, according to Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI).

Alzheimer's, the most common form of dementia, robs people of their memory and thought processes and, eventually, bodily functions.

In Asia, 13.7 million people had Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia in 2005. That is expected to grow to 23.7 million by 2020 and 64.6 million by 2050.

China alone will have 27 million sufferers by 2050 and India 16 million, according to ADI.

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