The number of Alzheimer's sufferers worldwide will double within 20 years to more than 65 million, according to a study published Tuesday to mark World Alzheimer's Day.
The cost of the disease and other forms of dementia will cost one percent of global gross domestic product this year and the problem is set to grow massively in the next two decades as people live longer.
The World Alzheimer Report 2010 said governments were "woefully unprepared" for the scale of the disruption that dementia will cause.
Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI), the umbrella body of national associations for the disease, estimates the number of Alzheimer's sufferers will mushroom from 35.6 million people worldwide now to 65.7 million by 2030 and 115.4 million by 2050.
"This is a wake-up call that Alzheimer's disease and other dementias are the single most significant health and social crisis of the 21st century," said ADI chairwoman Daisy Acosta.
"World governments are woefully unprepared for the social and economic disruptions this disease will cause."
The report was jointly written by Professor Anders Wimo of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm and Professor Martin Prince of King's College London.