What Is Dementia? - DementiaHub.SG

What Is Dementia?


Dementia is a collection of different symptoms characterised by a progressive worsening of memory and intellect (cognitive abilities), orientation, or personality, that is caused by the diseases that affect the brain. It is not a natural part of ageing.

Persons living with dementia eventually lose the ability to do things to a level that affects their daily functioning, such as working, performing daily activities, or social interaction.1 They may gradually find the following abilities challenging:

• Thinking and reasoning
• Problem-solving and making judgements
• Remembering new information or recalling recent events
• Learning new information and skills
• Recognising familiar faces and items
• Finding the right words to communicate

Dementia can affect adults of any age, but it is more common in those aged 65 and above.

Statistics on Dementia on a Global Scale

According to the Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI),2 someone in the world develops dementia every 3 seconds. There are over 50 million people worldwide living with dementia in 2020. This number will almost double every 20 years, reaching 82 million in 2030 and 152 million in 2050. Much of the increase will be in developing countries. Already 60% of people with dementia live in low and middle income countries, but by 2050 this will rise to 71%. The fastest growth in the elderly population is taking place in China, India, and their south Asian and western Pacific neighbours.

Demographic ageing is a worldwide process that shows the successes of improved health care over the last century. Many are now living longer and healthier lives and so the world population has a greater proportion of older people. Dementia mainly affects older people, although there is a growing awareness of cases that start before the age of 65.

There are over 9.9 million new cases of dementia each year worldwide, implying one new case every 3.2 seconds.

According to the Well-being of the Singapore Elderly (WiSE) nationwide study spearheaded by the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), 1 in every 10 people aged 60 years and above has dementia, with the condition affecting those above the age of 85.3 This translates into approximately 82,000 people in 2018, and more than 100,000 in the following few years. This number is expected to increase to 152,000 by 2030.4

Downloadable Resources

The following resources contain bite-sized information on What Is Dementia? that you may download and/ or print:

Click on the images below to download in English.

Forget Us Not: Building a Dementia Friendly Community


Understanding Dementia


  1. Your guide to understanding dementia. (2019, December 9). HealthHub. Retrieved on 24 March, 2021, from https://www.healthhub.sg/live-healthy/679/yourguidetounderstandingdementia_pdf
  2. Dementia statistics. (n.d.). Alzheimer’s Disease International. Retrieved 24 March, 2021, from https://www.alzint.org/about/dementia-facts-figures/dementia-statistics/
  3. Subramaniam, M., Chong, S. A., Vaingankar, J. A., Abdin, E., Chua, B. Y., Chua, H. C., Eng, G. K., Heng, D., Hia, S. B., Huang, W., Jeyagurunathana, A., Kua, J., Lee, S. P., Mahendran, R., Magadi, H. Malladi, S., McCrone, P., Pang, S., Picco, L., . . . Prince, M. (2015). Prevalence of dementia in people aged 60 years and above: Results from the WiSE study. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 45(4), 1127–1138. doi: 10.3233/jad-142769.
  4. Let’s talk about vascular dementia. (n.d.). HealthHub. Retrieved September 11, 2021, from https://www.healthhub.sg/programmes/74/understanding-dementia/
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