Young caretaker reading to Alzheimer's patient
Alzheimer's Disease and other Dementias

U.S. Burden of Alzheimer's to Double by 2060

The number of Alzheimer’s cases will more than double by 2060, new research shows. And Hispanic Americans have the largest projected increase.

In 2014, the number of cases of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRC) in 2014 was 5 million people, which is 1.6 percent of the U.S. population in 2014 (total population is 319 million people). By 2060, the number is projected to grow to 13.9 million people, which is nearly 3.3 percent of the U.S. in 2060 (projected total population is 417 million people).

The figures come from a study by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The study, published online in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, is the first to forecast Alzheimer’s disease by race and ethnicity. The CDC researchers predict that Hispanic Americans will have the largest projected increase due to population growth over the period between 2014-2060, although because of the relative size of the population, non-Hispanic whites will still have the largest total number of Alzheimer’s cases.

“This study shows that as the U.S. population increases, the number of people affected by Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias will rise, especially among minority populations,” said CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, M.D. “Early diagnosis is key to helping people and their families cope with loss of memory, navigate the health care system, and plan for their care in the future.”

An older Hispanic man with his family

Alzheimer’s disease is the fifth most common cause of death for Americans ages 65 years and older. It is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and, eventually, a person’s ability to perform even the simplest tasks.

For their study, CDC researchers estimated the number of people with Alzheimer’s by age, sex, race and ethnicity in 2014 and 2060 based on population projections from the U.S. Census Bureau and percentages of Medicare Fee-for-Service beneficiaries ages 65 years and older with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Alzheimer’s disease is the fifth most common cause of death for Americans ages 65 and older.

Among people ages 65 and older, African Americans have the highest prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (13.8 percent), followed by Hispanics (12.2 percent), and non-Hispanic whites (10.3 percent), American Indian and Alaska Natives (9.1 percent), and Asian and Pacific Islanders (8.4 percent).

By 2060, the researchers estimate there will be 3.2 million Hispanics and 2.2 million African Americans with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. The increases are a result of fewer people dying from other chronic diseases and surviving into older adulthood when the risk for Alzheimer’s and related dementias goes up.

The report also addresses the need to provide support to caregivers of persons living with Alzheimer’s and related dementias because an early diagnosis can help caregivers plan for the life-changing experience of caring for a friend or family member and maintain their own health and well-being. (See our story, “Long-Distance Caregiving: Dealing with Frustration and Guilt.”)

“It is important for people who think their daily lives are impacted by memory loss to discuss these concerns with a health care provider. An early assessment and diagnosis is key to planning for their health care needs, including long-term services and supports, as the disease progresses,” said Kevin Matthews, Ph.D., health geographer and lead author of the study with the CDC’s Division of Population Health within the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

For more information on CDC’s activities related to Alzheimer’s disease, click here.  To learn about the government’s project with the private sector, called the  Healthy Brain Initiative, click here. For more information on the National Plans to Address Alzheimer’s Disease, click here.

 

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