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  • State of Mind – Alzheimer’s Disease Takes an Increasingly Large Toll


    When President Ronald Reagan designated November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month in 1983, fewer than 2 million Americans were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Today, the number of people with the disease has soared to 5.5 million. Here are some key statistics from the Alzheimer’s Assoc. that demonstrate the urgent need for further work toward a cure.

    • Alzheimer’s currently afflicts about 5.3 million people 65 or older and approximately 200,000 individuals under age 65. Roughly 10% of people age 65 or older has Alzheimer’s.
    • Almost two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s are women. African-Americans are about twice as likely to have Alzheimer’s or other dementias as older whites. Hispanics are about one and a half times as likely to have Alzheimer’s or other dementias as older whites.
    • Because of the increasing number of people age 65 and older in the U.S., the number of new cases of Alzheimer’s and other dementias is projected to soar. Today, someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer’s dementia every 66 seconds. By mid-century, someone in the U.S. will develop the disease every 33 seconds.
    • Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S. It is the fifth-leading cause of death among those age 65 and older and a leading cause of disability and poor health. It is currently the only top-10 cause of death that cannot be prevented, cured, or even slowed.
    • Although deaths from other major causes have decreased significantly, official records indicate that deaths from Alzheimer’s disease have increased significantly. Between 2000 and 2014, deaths from Alzheimer’s disease as recorded on death certificates increased 89%, while deaths from the number-one cause of death (heart disease) decreased 14%.
    • Among people age 70, 61% of those with Alzheimer’s are expected to die before the age of 80, compared with 30% of people without Alzheimer’s — a rate twice as high.
    • In 2016, 15.9 million family and friends provided 18.2 billion hours of unpaid assistance to those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, a contribution to the nation valued at $230.1 billion.
    • Approximately two-thirds of caregivers are women, 34% are age 65 or older, and 41% have a household income of $50,000 or less. Approximately one-quarter of caregivers are in the ‘sandwich generation,” meaning they care not only for an aging parent, but also for children under age 18.
    • Alzheimer’s takes a devastating toll on caregivers. Compared with caregivers of people without dementia, twice as many caregivers of those with dementia indicate substantial emotional, financial, and physical difficulties.
    • The costs of healthcare and long-term care for individuals with Alzheimer’s or other dementias are substantial. Dementia is one of the costliest conditions to society. Total payments in 2017 for all individuals with Alzheimer’s or other dementias are estimated at $259 billion. Medicare and Medicaid are expected to cover $175 billion, or 67%, of the total healthcare and long-term-care payments for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias. Out-of-pocket spending is expected to be $56 billion.

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