In the Piteå River Valley all persons with memory impairment that interferes with normal life are referred to one hospital department for clinical workup and diagnosis. 619 patients were assessed in the department during the years 1990-1995. Of these, 36.9% had Alzheimer's disease (AD), 30.4% had vascular dementia (VaD), 3.0% had a mixed AD/VaD, 3.2% had frontotemporal dementia and 5.3% had other forms of dementia. Another 7% had memory impairment but no dementia. The overall mean annual incidence rate of clinically relevant dementia was 295/100,000 persons at risk and the mean prevalence rate was 755/100,000 persons. For persons 65 years and older the incidence and prevalence rates were 840 and 2,150/100,000 persons, respectively. This means that annually, approximately 300 persons/100,000 population over the age of 40 need medical attention or social services.