Dementia in Latin America: Epidemiological Evidence and Implications for Public Policy
Front Aging Neurosci. 2017; 9: 221
Population aging is among the most important global transformations. Today, 12% of the world population is of age 60 and over and by the middle of this century this segment will represent 21.5%. The increase in population of those aged 80 and over, also referred to as the “oldest old” or the “very elderly”, will be even more pronounced, going from 1.7% of the population to 4.5% within the same period. Compared to European and North American countries, Latin America (LA) is experiencing this unprecedented demographic change at a significantly faster rate. Due to demographic and health transitions, the number of people with dementia will rise from 7.8 million in 2013 to over 27 million by 2050. Nowadays, the global prevalence of dementia in LA has reached 7.1%, with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) being the most frequent type. This level is similar to those found in developed countries; however, the dementia rate is twice as high as that of the 65–69 years age group in developed countries. In addition, the prevalence and incidence of dementia is higher among illiterate people. Mortality rates due to dementia have risen considerably. The burden and costs of the disease are high and must be covered by patients’ families. The prevention of dementia and the development of longterm care policies and plans for people with dementia in LA, which take into account regional differences and similarities, should be urgent priorities.