The number of men and women with Alzheimer’s disease is expected to triple in the next 40 years, according to a new analysis of U.S. Census data. The findings are consistent with earlier estimates of the devastating and growing burden of Alzheimer’s disease.
"This increase is due to an aging baby boom generation,” said Jennifer Weuve of the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, who co-authored the report. “It will place a huge burden on society, disabling more people who develop the disease, challenging their caregivers, and straining medical and social safety nets." The findings were published in Neurology, from the American Academy of Neurology.
The researchers estimated that 4.7 million Americans aged 65 and older had Alzheimer’s in 2010, or about one new case every 68 seconds. The number will triple to around 13.8 million by 2050, according to their estimates.
"Our detailed projections use the most up-to-date data, but they are similar to projections made years and decades ago,” said Ms. Weuve. “All of these projections anticipate a future with a dramatic increase in the number of people with Alzheimer's and should compel us to prepare for it."
For the study, the researchers analyzed information from 10,802 African-American and White seniors living in Chicago between 1993 and 2011. Study participants were interviewed and assessed for dementia every three years. The data were combined with U.S. death rates, education and current and future population estimates from the Census Bureau.
Alzheimer’s remains the most common form of dementia in the elderly. The disease most often develops in those older than 70, and prevalence increases with age. Indeed, advancing age remains the principal risk factor for the disease. More than one in four of those over 90 have Alzheimer’s.
Worldwide, an estimated 35 million people have Alzheimer’s, which typically leads to death three to nine years after a diagnosis.
The findings are an urgent reminder about the need for better research and treatments for the disease. The Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation continues to fund vital research into the underlying causes and search for a cure. To learn more about their research, click here.
Source: American Academy of Neuorology. Liesi E. Hebert, Jennifer Weuve, Paul A. Scherr, Denis A. Evans: Alzheimer disease in the United States (2010–2050) estimated using the 2010 census. Neurology online, Feb. 6, 2013.