Published on: March 1, 2013
by Sarah Stevenson for A Place For Mom:
Researchers learn more and more about Alzheimer’s every year, and some of the statistics are staggering indeed.
1. Nearly half of adults aged 85 and over have Alzheimer’s disease.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2012 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report, an estimated 45% of American seniors 85 and older suffer from Alzheimer’s, and one in eight people aged 65 and over (13%) has Alzheimer’s disease. It is the most common cause of dementia among older adults.
2. Out of approximately 5.4 million Americans with Alzheimer’s, more than half may not know they have it.
In part because of the difficulty with detecting early-stage Alzheimer’s or mild cognitive impairment (MCI), many of those with Alzheimer’s remain undiagnosed. As our ability to detect early-stage Alzheimer’s improves, though, it will increase the overall number of people known to have the disease.
3. More women than men have Alzheimer’s disease.
The Alzheimer’s Association reports that nearly two-thirds of Americans suffering from Alzheimer’s are women. However, it is important to note that this does not mean there is a gender-based predisposition for the disease; the primary reason for this statistic is that women generally live longer than men.
4. Early-onset Alzheimer’s can develop in people as young as age 30.
We may think of Alzheimer’s as a disease of the elderly, but up to 5% of Americans with Alzheimer’s (around 200,000) have the early-onset variety, which usually appears in one’s 50s or 40s, but can start to show symptoms as early as one’s 30s. Though the cause still isn’t well understood, some of these cases have a genetic component.
5. In America, a new case of Alzheimer’s develops every 68 seconds; by 2050, the incidence will increase to every 33 seconds.
The rate at which Alzheimer’s disease occurs—scary as that number already is—is projected to double by the middle of the century because of the growing population of people over age 65. The number of people who live into their 80s and 90s is also expected to grow, and the likelihood of Alzheimer’s increases with more advanced age.
6. Alzheimer’s is the 6th-leading cause of death in the U.S., and the 5th-leading cause of death in adults aged 65 and over.
“Alzheimer’s is becoming a more common cause of death as the populations of the United States and other countries age,” reports the Alzheimer’s Association. In part, this is because we are experiencing more success in reducing the rate of death from other causes such as heart disease, while the rate of death from AD continues to increase.
7. Over 15 million Americans are unpaid caregivers for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.
Family caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients provide a whopping 80% of the care provided to AD patients at home, while a mere 10 percent of seniors receive all their care from paid health professionals. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, most (70%) of those caregivers are women.
8. Alzheimer’s caregivers have an increased likelihood of physical strain, mental and emotional stress, depression, financial problems, and familial/interpersonal issues.
The communication difficulties and personality changes of Alzheimer’s disease can place incredible strain on caregivers. “The close relationship between the caregiver and the impaired person—a relationship involving shared emotions, experiences and memories—may particularly place caregivers at risk for psychological and physical illness” (Facts and Figures). Therapeutic and social support are shown to reduce this risk.
9. In 2012, the average annual cost of health care and LTC services for someone with Alzheimer’s was $43,847.
Over $9,000 of that amount was paid out of pocket. About $30,000, or roughly 70% , was paid by Medicare and Medicaid. Medicaid coverage is particularly important for those Medicare beneficiaries who have very low income and assets but who need long-term care or skilled nursing.
10. An estimated 800,000 Americans with Alzheimer’s are living alone.
For all of the Alzheimer’s sufferers who are receiving support from family caregivers or who are living in an Alzheimer’s or dementia care facility as many as 15% of people with AD live alone. Many of those have no identified caregiver, a situation which puts them at greater risk of social isolation, poor self-care, falls and other medical emergencies, wandering, malnutrition and a range of other issues.
All data from Alzheimer’s Association, 2012 Alzheimer’s disease facts and figures. Alzheimer’s and Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association. March 2012; 8:131–168.
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