Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are typically seen as afflicting the elderly, but new data suggest an increasing number of baby boomers are also being struck by the brain-destroying diseases.

Of the half-million Canadians affected by various forms of dementia, about 71,000 — or almost 15 per cent — are under age 65, says a study by the Alzheimer Society of Canada. Of those, about 50,000 are 59 or younger.

The rising tide of cases among these not-quite seniors as well as their older counterparts is poised to swamp the health-care system and severely affect the economy, warns society CEO Scott Dudgeon.

With Canada’s aging population, the society predicts that within five years, 250,000 more people could be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. By 2040, that could swell to between one million and 1.3 million.