• Kyodo

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The number of seniors with dementia has doubled over the past 10 years to exceed 3 million, meaning 1 in 10 people aged 65 or older suffers from it, a health ministry estimate showed Friday.

The number is estimated to reach just over 3 million this year, up from almost 1.5 million in 2002, accounting for 9.9 percent of those aged 65 or older, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

The estimate is based on data collected in 2010 on those in need of nursing care.

The rapid increase reflects growing public awareness of dementia and a rise in the number of people consulting with doctors and being diagnosed with it.

The ministry estimates the number of dementia patients will reach 4.1 million in 2020, or 11.3 percent of the overall elderly population, and 4.7 million in 2025, or 12.8 percent.

The ministry is planning to introduce a program in fiscal 2013 to offer medical support to dementia patients in the early stages of the disorder by forming a group of nurses and therapists to make home visits.

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