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Dementia costs the UK £539 a second

Dementia costs the country £17b per year, yet the government has no plan on how to deal with dementia now or in the future.

The Alzheimer's Society report into the social and economic cost of dementia warns that urgent action is needed to plan for a rapid increase in dementia in the UK.

The Dementia UK report, prepared by the London School of Economics and King's College London, estimates that in less than 20 years, the number of people with dementia will increase dramatically from 700,000 to more than a million.

Neil Hunt, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society, says: "With every second ticking by, dementia costs the UK £539. We can't afford to ignore the true cost of dementia to society as a whole. Millions of people will be affected by the devastating consequences of dementia unless we act now.

"We must tackle this huge challenge head on with a national dementia strategy. We need to invest in dementia services, research, support and training and use what money is being spent more effectively. Planning now will save lives and money in the future.

"This new research shows that the government is failing to support people with dementia and their carers. As the number of people with dementia soars to a million by 2025, this problem will only get worse. Dementia will place an intolerable strain on our health and social care system unless the right services and support are in place."

Professor Martin Knapp of the London School of Economics, one of the research directors, says: "This research highlights the desperate need for dementia to be made a national priority. Families and individuals are bearing the biggest financial burden of dementia care, yet the current levels of services and support for people with dementia and carers are clearly inadequate.

"Dementia is one of the main causes of disability later in life ahead of cancer, cardiovascular disease and stroke, yet funding for dementia research is significantly lower than these other conditions. Even delaying the onset of dementia by five years would halve the number of related deaths, saving nearly
30,000 lives annually."