People are living longer, meaning more cases of dementia worldwide.

The best estimates are that 135 million people with some form of dementia by the year 2050.  That's three times as many as today.  Dr. Carmel Dyer is Vice Chair of Internal Medicine at UT Health Medical Center and chief of staff at LBJ Hospital.  She says the increasing numbers should be expected due to the aging of the planet’s population.

“Whether you are in China, you're in Europe, or you're in the Americas, there are increasing numbers of older individuals,” Dr. Dyer explains, “and Alzheimer's disease is a disorder of older age.”

Dyer says there were no treatments 20 years ago.  Now, Alzheimer's onset can be delayed with medication, sometimes for years.  The research is difficult because there are so many potential sources of the affliction.

“In some people it may be just a problem with the brain,” she says.  “In some it may be the blood vessels in the brain and in some it may be genetic.”