Dementia in India 2020


In 2010, an estimated 3.7 million people lived with dementia in India. This number is likely to increase to 5.29 million in 2020, this report states. Released by Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders Society of India (ARDSI), Cochin, this report compiles data points to present an overview of the state of dementia in India. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defined dementia as a “syndrome due to disease of the brain, usually of a chronic or progressive nature, in which there is disturbance of multiple higher cortical functions, including memory, thinking, orientation, comprehension…” It is often confused with delirium, depression and other autoimmune diseases. People above the age of 65 years are mostly affected by dementia, but it can also impact people younger, the report states. 

Dementia does not have a cure, and all the treatments available for it are meant to slow down the decay of brain functioning. Greater awareness about dementia is needed to diagnose the symptoms early and provide people with treatment, the report adds. 

This 96-page report is divided into 14 chapters: Words that matter- excerpts from people with dementia and their caregivers (Chapter 1); Dementia- Introduction, Assessment and Diagnosis (Chapter 2); Psychological and Behavioural Interventions in Dementia (Chapter 3); Medical Management of Dementia: A Review of Existing Guidelines (Chapter 4); Dementia Prevalence in India- Estimating the Numbers (Chapter 5); Dementia Care Costs (Chapter 6); Legal and Ethical Issues in Dementia: Indian Scenario (Chapter 7); Development of Community Resources for Dementia Care (Chapter 8); Community Based Rehabilitation of People with Dementia: An Indian Experience (Chapter 9); Caregiver Stress and interventions (Chapter 10); Digital Interventions to Support Families (Chapter 11); Dementia: Risk and Protective Factors (Chapter 12); Experts’ and Stakeholders’ Consensus on Challenges and Priorities in Dementia (Chapter 13); National Dementia Strategy and Plan for India- the Roadmap (Chapter 14).


  1. There are different types of dementia - Alzheimer’s dementia, Vascular dementia, Lewy bodies dementia and more. Alzheimer’s dementia is the most common type.

  2. Old Age, diabetes mellitus, higher BMI and obesity, high blood pressure and cholesterol, depression, prolonged smoking, alcohol abuse, are all risk factors for Alzheimer’s dementia.

  3. There are three stages of dementia – mild, moderate and severe, the report states. In the severe stage, many patients have disturbed memory and often have difficulty recognizing relatives and friends, and may not even identify self.

  4. Cognitive retraining (practicing carefully selected tasks), cognitive stimulation therapy (including activities that stimulate thinking and memory), reality orientation (to orient and remind the patients about themselves as well as their environment) are some forms of treatments offered to people with dementia.

  5. The patient and their family should be included while prescribing and giving medication, the report states.

  6. As per WHO, 10 million new cases of dementia emerge each year. The Dementia India Report (2010) estimates that 5.3 million people above the age of 60 have dementia in India 2020.

  7. The estimated household costs of caring for a person with dementia, in 2019, is between 29,000 and 96,000 per year for a rural household, and around 66,000 and three lakhs per year for an urban household.

  8. The report notes that India spends only about 1.2 per cent of its GDP on healthcare. The budget allocated for mental health is small, and an even smaller fraction is allocated for illnesses affecting the elderly.

  9. Caregivers of people with dementia can suffer from ‘caregiver burden’, which is the physical, emotional, social and economic outcome of providing care. Measures to help caregivers in India need to be developed, the report states.

  10. While there are online modes of support (like videos, websites, forums, helplines), they are usually in English speakers. Digital support needs to be made more accessible by increasing its reach and use, the report adds.

    Focus and Factoids by Aashna Jain.

    PARI Library's health archive project is part of an initiative supported by the Azim Premji University to develop a free-access repository of health-related reports relevant to rural India.


Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders Society of India (ARDSI), Cochin


Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders Society of India (ARDSI), Cochin