The Alzheimer’s Factor
Alzheimer’s is growing at an alarming rate. Alzheimer’s increased by 46.1% as a cause of death between 2000 and 2006, while causes of death from prostate cancer, breast cancer, heart disease and HIV all declined during that same time period.
Facts and Figures about Alzheimer’s Disease
The 2017 Alzheimer’s Association annual report titled, “Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures” explores different types of dementia, causes and risk factors, and the cost involved in providing health care, among other areas. This report contains some eye-opening statistics:
• An estimated 5.5 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s disease. This figure includes 5.3 million people aged 65 and older and 200,000 individuals under age 65 who have younger-onset Alzheimer’s (3.3 million are women and 2.0 million are men).
• One in ten people age 65 and older (11 percent) has Alzheimer’s disease.
• About one-third of people age 85 and older (32 percent) have Alzheimer’s disease.
• Eighty-two percent of people who have Alzheimer’s disease are age 75 or older. The number of people aged 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease is estimated to reach 7.1 million in 2025 – more than a 35% increase from the 5.1 million aged 65 and older currently affected.
• Every 66 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s. Thus, approximately 480,000 people age 65 or older will develop Alzheimer’s disease in the United States in 2015.
• By 2050, it is projected that there will be 13.8 million individuals aged 65 and older with Alzheimer’s – unless medical breakthroughs identify ways to prevent or more effectively treat the disease.
Caregivers are at risk of developing health problems.
There are currently approximately 15 million unpaid caregivers (family members and friends) providing care to persons with Alzheimer’s or dementia in 2017. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, those persons are at high risk of developing health problems, or worsening existing health issues. For example, family and other unpaid caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s or another dementia are more likely than non-caregivers to have high levels of stress hormones, reduced immune function, slow wound healing, new hypertension and new coronary heart disease.
Spouses who are caregivers for the other spouse with Alzheimer’s or other dementia are at greater risk for emergency room visits due to their health deteriorating as the result of providing care. One 2006 study found that caregivers of spouses who were hospitalized for dementia were more likely than caregivers of spouses who were hospitalized for other diseases to die in the following year.