150,000 Kiwis 'will have dementia by 2050'

wrinkled old hands getty
There are currently around 60,000 Kiwis living with dementia (Getty)

A dementia epidemic is looming, with Alzheimers New Zealand warning that 150,000 Kiwis will be afflicted by 2050.

There are currently about 60,000 Kiwis living with dementia and Alzheimers NZ chief executive Catherine Hall says estimates show the number will grow significantly. 

She appeared before MPs at Parliament's finance and expenditure select committee on Wednesday. 

"The blueprint for dealing with this situation already exists  what is needed from the government is the commitment and funding to implement it," she said.

"There are long-term fiscal implications for our economy due to our ageing population, and health costs are one of the most significant areas of public spending."

The opportunity costs for carers of people with dementia was estimated in 2012 to be $37.2 million.

Research commissioned by Alzheimers New Zealand in 2008 found that delaying entry to residential care by three months would have resulted in $32 million of savings that year.

"We know we will not see movement before the September election, unless initiatives are funded within this Budget."