Health professionals in Northern Ireland have been told that the number of people suffering from dementia is set to increase by more than 200% over the coming years.
Social development minister Margaret Ritchie told a Belfast conference that the needs of those affected will have to be addressed.
According to recent estimates, dementia currently affects 16,000 people in the province, but the figure is projected to rise to 20,500 in less than 10 years and to 47,000 by the middle of the century.
Mrs Ritchie said it is vitally important that work to help people with dementia - such as providing appropriate housing, modern technology and an environment conducive to an independent lifestyle - is recognised.
She said: "Given this anticipated increase of more than 200% in the incidence of dementia, we will have to be pro-active. We will have to be pragmatic.
"We will have to ensure that provision of accommodation across the spectrum of care, from home to supported housing, public housing provision, nursing home and residential care deals with this increasing trend."
She said her department would continue to work closely with the Housing Executive, housing associations and health authorities on the issue.
"I am determined that we will continue to work hard to address the needs of the elderly and particularly those affected by dementia."