If you or someone in your family has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, one of the first things you’ll likely do is scour the internet searching for all the information you can find. While there are plenty of articles about Alzheimer’s online, it can be difficult to figure out which information is accurate and which figures are up to date. One of the best resources for all your Alzheimer’s related questions is the nonprofit Alzheimer’s Association. Each year, this organization releases an updated version of its extremely valuable “Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures Report.”
After reviewing the report, we picked out the top ten most important facts and figures (in our opinion). This information should help you better understand Alzheimer’s and how this condition affects individuals, families, and our country.
1. 5.7 Million Americans Have Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s is much more common than most people realize, but the disease doesn’t always get a lot of visibility, because it progresses slowly.
2. The Amount of People with Alzheimer’s Is Growing
The number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s right now is 5.7 million, but that number is expected to skyrocket to 14 million Americans in 2020. That’s only two years away! As the massive Baby Boom population continues to age and as diagnosis of Alzheimer’s gets better, rates of the disease will keep going up.
3. California Has the Largest Population of Residents with Alzheimer’s
California is home to 650,000 people with Alzheimer’s, making it the state with the largest population of residents with the disease. Following the national trend, this population is only expected to grow. By 2025, the amount of people in California with Alzheimer’s is expected to increase 29.2% to 840,000 people. California is the most populous state in the country, so it’s no surprise that it also has the most residents with Alzheimer’s. Because Alzheimer’s is such an expensive disease, this population could have a significant financial impact on our country and in the Golden State!
4. Alzheimer’s Is an Expensive Disease
One of the many cruelties of Alzheimer’s is that the disease eventually leaves a sufferer completely dependent on the care of others. Most families cannot provide the level of care needed at the later stages of the disease, which means sufferers must get professional care. A person with Alzheimer’s will require $341,840 of medical care on average throughout their lifetime. Cumulatively, in 2018, the “direct costs” to America from Alzheimer’s in 2018 was $277 billion. That number is expected to increase to $1.1 trillion by 2050.
5. The Vast Majority of Care Given to Americans with Alzheimer’s or Dementia Comes from Unpaid Caregivers
Around our country, 16.1 million Americans served as caregivers for their family members and loved ones with Alzheimer’s and dementia. One third of caregivers are daughters of the person with dementia and one quarter of caregivers are in the “sandwich generation,” meaning that they care for a parent while also having children under 18 in the home.
6. Caregivers Offer 18.4 Billion Hours of Care Per Year
Caregivers truly are the unsung heroes in our country (and in the world). In 2018, they provided 18.4 billion hours of care for their family members and loved ones, which is valued at $232 billion dollars. Their crucial care allows sufferers to stay home longer and saves important social programs, like Medicaid and Medicare, from significant care expenses. We applaud caregiver but also want to remind them that caregivers also need to give themselves care!
7. The Biggest Risk Factor for Alzheimer’s Is Age
Certain genetic traits and lifestyle habits can increase your risk of Alzheimer’s, but the primary risk factor for the disease is age. Alzheimer’s affects 3% of people between the ages of 65 and 74, 17% of people aged 75 to 84, and 32% of people 85 and older.
8. Changing Your Habits Can Decrease Your Risk of Getting Alzheimer’s
You can’t change your genome or your age, but you can work to reduce your risk for getting Alzheimer’s by changing your habits. Certain lifestyle traits have been correlated to a decreased instance of the disease, including:
- Exercising regularly
- Eating a healthy diet
- Pursuing lifelong learning and new skills
- Maintaining a strong social circle
9. Alzheimer’s May Start Long Before Symptoms Ever Surface
New research indicates that changes to the brain that could signify Alzheimer’s may occur as many as 20 years before symptoms of the disease become noticeable! This might sound scary, but it could also be an opportunity. If researchers can develop a way to identify Alzheimer’s earlier, before significant damage to the brain has occurred, they may be able to also develop preventative treatments.
10. Alzheimer’s Is the Sixth Leading Cause of Death in the United States
Even as rates of death from cancer, heart disease, and stroke have continued to decline, the mortality rate for Alzheimer’s has risen 123% between 2000 and 2015. Unfortunately, there is still no cure for Alzheimer’s and no approved treatments to slow down the disease’s progression.
This may not always be the case. All across the country, researchers are learning more and more about this extremely complex disease and testing new treatments. We may one day live in a world where Alzheimer’s can be discovered early and proactively treated. Until that day, memory care facilities like Sunshine Care will continue to provide supportive care for those with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
We encourage you to read the Alzheimer’s Association’s full 2018 Alzheimer’s Facts and Figures Report. If you have questions or need support after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis in your family, we invite you to our free monthly Caregiver’s Support Group.
Categories: Memory Care