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Last Updated: Sunday, 5 October, 2003, 23:42 GMT 00:42 UK
Drug 'eases Alzheimer's onset'
Alzheimer's could triple in the UK over the next 50 year
An anti-dementia drug could give people with Alzheimer's the chance to delay their move to long-term residential care, according to a US study.

People who took Aricept were able to remain in their own homes for an extra 18 months before they needed full time care, researchers found.

That could provide comfort to many families and also help them save on the average 500 a week cost of a place in a nursing home.

Earlier this year the Alzheimer's Research Trust estimated the cost of providing long term care could double to 11bn a year by 2030.

But charities for the elderly warned that if patients stayed in the community longer, then adequate support and funding must be given to those who care for them.

They also warned that in many areas of the country people are still having difficulty accessing proper care even if they want it.

Alzheimer's 'epidemic'

The researchers' findings follow a number of recent studies into Alzheimer's patients.

One suggested that an "epidemic of Alzheimer's" over the next few decades could be far worse than previously thought.

The number of people with Alzheimer's could treble by 2050 as the population surges and existing patients live longer, a US study said.

In the UK, predictions from the Alzheimer's Society are for a 150% increase in prevalence over the next 50 years.

Last month it was claimed that a cannabis-based drug could help people with the condition by giving them the "munchies".

Patients with the condition often experience weight loss because they stop recognising when they are hungry.

Another study said that exposure to the metal copper may increase the risk of Alzheimer's.

The BBC's Glenda Cooper
"Charities say we should be thinking more about the carers"

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