DEMENTIA could affect three million Australians by 2050, new research by the University of New South Wales revealed on Monday.
The report, by UNSW Dementia Collaborative Research Centre director Scientia Professor Henry Brodaty, modelled the likely impact of dementia on Australians between 2012 and 2050.
Funded by Alzheimer's Australia, the report showed a dire need to invest in more research on the debilitating mental disease.
Professor Brodaty said his analysis showed if a treatment could be developed for dementia, it could slow the onset of the disease in people by five years, and possibly spare one million Australians from diagnosis.
"In the short term we may be able to reduce our risk of dementia by better protecting our brain through the lifestyle changes that we know may help," he said.
"That includes looking after your body, brain and heart.
"But, in the long term, an increased investment in dementia research is the only hope we have for the development of medical interventions to delay, stop or reverse the diseases that lead to dementia."
Alzheimer's Australia chief executive Glenn Rees said the research showed research funding had not kept pace with other chronic diseases like cancer of heart disease.
"As a result, our dementia research sector is now facing an urgent shortage in capacity," Mr Rees said.
"While the Government has made some positive moves, such as the establishment of a new Partnership Centre for research on cognitive decline, we still need an immediate injection of funds to boost the number of Australian researchers working on dementia over the next 10 years."