World Alzheimer’s Report 2021

Journey through the diagnosis of dementia

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The World Alzheimer Report 2021 includes over 50 essays from leading experts from around the world and is supported by findings from 3 key global surveys, which received responses from 1,111 clinicians, 2,325 people with dementia and carers, and over 100 national Alzheimer and dementia associations.

This report focuses on the crucial and timely subject of diagnosis. Diagnosis is still a major challenge globally, with those who seek a diagnosis often experiencing long wait times, if they are able to receive a diagnosis at all. Societal stigma, self-stigma and clinician related stigma also exacerbate what is already a difficult journey.

With this report, we explore this diagnosis journey through the lens of those living with dementia and carers, clinicians, researchers and academics, and Alzheimer and dementia associations, as well as what can and must be improved.

Key findings from the report include:

  • 75% of people with dementia globally are undiagnosed, equating to 41 million people
  • Clinician stigma still a major barrier to diagnosis, with 1 in 3 believing nothing can be done
  • 90% Clinicians identified additional delays/wait times due to COVID-19
  • 33% of clinicians in our survey believe that nothing can be done about dementia so why bother

Key recommendations include:

  • Healthcare systems globally should introduce annual brain health check-ups for the over 50s, facilitated by evolution in biomarkers science, with the opportunity to promote risk reduction strategies
  • Governments globally must urgently start to measure and record diagnosis more accurately. Accurate measurement of diagnosis rates is the key to treatment, care and support, to healthcare system preparedness, and to challenging stigma
  • Governments must prepare for a tsunami of demand for healthcare services as a result of global ageing populations, improved diagnostics, including biomarkers, and emerging pharmacological treatments

Read the report

About the authors

This report has been overseen by the McGill University Research Centre in Studies in Aging and the McGill Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, specifically the Division of Geriatric Medicine and the Dementia Education Program, supported by the Office of Education Technology and Online Learning at the Steinberg Centre for Simulation and Interactive Learning. Together, they are leading complementary initiatives devoted to prevention, diagnostics, management, education, knowledge dissemination and support for care partners.

Learn more about the team

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