Dementia Facts and Statistics: What You Need to Know

Dementia is a term that describes when a person loses their thinking ability, memory, reasoning, and decision-making skills. There are different types of dementia, and these conditions typically develop after age 65.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 14 million people in the United States will be diagnosed with some form of dementia by the year 2060.

This article discusses types of dementia, the symptoms, who is affected by the conditions, and the screenings and tests used to diagnose them.

Home caregiver sitting with a senior woman.

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What Is Dementia?

Dementia refers to a decline in a person's cognitive skills that can eventually lead to the loss of independence. Dementia is not curable, and the symptoms get worse over time.

The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer's disease, which affects 60%-80% of people with dementia. Other types of dementia include:

  • Vascular dementia
  • Fronto-temporal dementia
  • Lewy body dementia
  • Mixed dementia

Early symptoms of dementia—confusion, difficulty with memory, loss of balance—can be mistaken for the normal side effects of aging.

The later signs of dementia are more obvious and include:

  • Getting lost in familiar areas
  • Difficulty reading or writing
  • Inability to perform everyday tasks
  • Struggling to manage money
  • Hallucinations
  • Repeating questions
  • Impulsive behaviors
  • Inability to identify common objects
  • Paranoia
  • Difficulty moving around
  • Loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy
  • Loss of empathy for others

How Common Is Dementia?

Dementia affects around 5 million people in the U.S. who are at least age 65. The number of people affected increases as age increases.

It's estimated that by the year 2060, around 14 million people in the U.S. will have some type of dementia. Alzheimer's disease alone affects about 6 million people in the U.S.

Dementia and Ethnicity

Dementia is more common in African Americans and Hispanic people than in the Caucasian population.

Dementia by Age & Sex

Dementia becomes more common as age increases. Approximately 1 out of every 3 people aged 85 or older will be diagnosed with some type of dementia.

Dementia is more common in people assigned female at birth than it is in people assigned male at birth. About 1 in 6 females and 1 in 10 males will develop dementia in their lifetime.

Causes and Risk Factors for Dementia

The exact cause of dementia is not known, but various types of dementia can be related to damage to cells in different parts of the brain. Genetics can also play a role in some types of dementia.

Other risk factors for dementia include:

  • Advanced age
  • Heart disease
  • Family history
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • Traumatic brain injury

Mortality Rates for Dementia

Dementia is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. It is estimated that in 2019, around 1.62 million people worldwide died from end-stage dementia. This number is expected to continue to increase over time.

People who died from dementia were also found to have serious health conditions—hip fractures, sepsis, pneumonia, dysphagia, decubitus ulcer, and bedridden status—more frequently than people who died from other causes.

Screening and Early Detection

The early symptoms of dementia are often recognized by family members or other people close to a person who is having difficulty with everyday tasks such as managing their money, organizing their medications, or shopping.

Screening for dementia is typically done by a primary healthcare provider once the symptoms are recognized. They start by getting a thorough history of the person's symptoms. A provider will look for other possible non-dementia-related causes of a person's symptoms, such as side effects of medication, vitamin deficiencies, a head injury, sleep apnea, or depression.

There are several screening tools available for dementia. These tests can be completed in 10 to 15 minutes.

Screening tests for dementia commonly used by primary healthcare providers include:

Unfortunately, early identification of dementia does not reduce mortality rates. However, it does give people and their families more time to plan for future decline in function.


Dementia is a group of symptoms that affect cognitive function, such as thinking, decision-making, memory, and reasoning skills. There are different types of dementia, but Alzheimer's disease is the most common.

Dementia affects around 5 million people in the U.S. over the age of 65, and this number increases as age increases. It is estimated that dementia will affect 14 million people in the U.S. by the year 2060.

Dementia affects women more frequently than men and is more common in African American and Hispanic populations than in Caucasian people. There is currently no cure for dementia, but early detection can help people plan for the future as their function declines.

A Word From Verywell

If you think you or a loved one may have dementia, know that there is support available. Start by talking to a healthcare provider to make sure you or your loved one gets an accurate diagnosis. Educating yourself about dementia and the progression of symptoms will help you prepare for the future. Consider joining a dementia support group for additional resources.

7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What is dementia?.

  2. National Institute on Aging. What is dementia? Symptoms, types, and diagnosis.

  3. National Institutes of Health. What Is Alzheimer's Disease?.

  4. Institute for Dementia Research & Prevention. Frequently asked questions.

  5. Paulson HL, Igo I. Genetics of dementiaSemin Neurol. 2011;31(5):449-460. doi:10.1055%2Fs-0031-1299784

  6. Nichols E, Abd-Allah F, Abdoli A, et al. Global mortality from dementia: Application of a new method and results from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2019Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Translational Research & Clinical Interventions. 2021;7(1). doi:10.1002/trc2.12200

  7. Panegyres PK, Berry R, Burchell J. Early dementia screeningDiagnostics (Basel). 2016;6(1):6. doi:10.3390%2Fdiagnostics6010006

By Aubrey Bailey, PT, DPT, CHT
Aubrey Bailey is a physical therapist and professor of anatomy and physiology with over a decade of experience providing in-person and online education for medical personnel and the general public, specializing in the areas of orthopedic injury, neurologic diseases, developmental disorders, and healthy living.