The number of Americans suffering from Alzheimer’s is set to double by 2060, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates.
Alzheimer’s disease is already crippling the minds of some 5.7 million Americans, and we have long expected a dramatic rise in its prevalence as the population ages.
The devastating neurodegenerative disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the US, and caring for the surviving sufferers costs hundreds of billions of dollars.
The population isn’t just aging – it’s growing, as babies are born and people live longer.
But we are making little progress against Alzheimer’s and the CDC’s latest figures suggest that the burden of the disease will only loom larger as time goes on.
Alzheimer’s is destroying the memories of a third of Americans over 65 already, and as the population grows and ages the number affected is set to double to 13.9 million by 2060
One in three seniors in the US has Alzheimer’s.
With so many suffering from it, one might think that there is plenty of impetus to research the disease and more than enough subjects for study.
But we are only just beginning to scratch the surface of understanding what Alzheimer’s does to the brain and what causes it.
In the meantime, the Alzheimer’s Association estimates that the best way to save $7.9 trillion in expenses for treating and caring for dementia patients is to improve diagnoses and make sure they happen as early as possible.
Doing so requires that doctors, public health officials, family members and other loved ones know who is at risk and what signs and symptoms to look out for.
The latest CDC report analyzes data on 15.1 million senior and supports that effort by tracking the how the disease is affecting different populations.
Unsurprisingly, the older a person, the more likely they are to start to lose their memory due to the disease.
But women are also far more likely to be struck by Alzheimer’s than are men of the same age.
Dementia is over 40 percent more common in women. More than 12 percent of females over 65 have the disease, as compared to 8.6 percent of men in the same age group.
As of 2014, black Americans were the most likely racial group to have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia.
Nearly 14 percent of black men and women had developed the disease by 2014, where as 12.2 percent of Hispanics had it, as did 10.3 percent of white Americans.
Asians and Native Americans were relatively less likely to have or at least be given an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, with respective rates of 8.4 and 9.1 percent of the populations being struck.
The CDC projects that the number of white Americans with Alzheimer’s disease will actually peak around 2050, then decline slightly to 7.06 million in 2060.
The disease will only become more and more prevalent among black and Hispanic people, on the other hand, affecting 2.17 million and 3.2 million, respectively.
Alzheimer’s disease renders people unable to care for themselves, and that has a ripple effect on society.
Looking after these patients already demands a great deal of their healthy family members, but the situation is set to get much more dire, the CDC said.
‘Currently, there are seven potential caregivers to one adult in the high-risk age group, but this caregiver support ratio is expected to decline to four to one by 2030,’ the report authors wrote.
That means more assistance – both in terms of personally and money – will be required of the US government.
In light of the looming pressures of Alzheimer’s on the US as it threatens to sicken 13.9 million people in the coming decades, the CDC is urging better, more localized research, support for caregivers.