Alzheimer's Disease

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Millions of Americans have Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias.

  • An estimated 5.3 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s disease, including 200,000 under age 65.
  • In 2000, an estimated 411,000 new cases of Alzheimer’s disease were diagnosed; that number is expected to increase to 454,000 in 2010 and to 615,000 by 2029.
  • The number of Americans with Alzheimer’s and other dementias is increasing every year because of the growth in the older population.
  • The 85 and older population comprises nearly 50 percent of the individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • More women than men have Alzheimer’s and other dementias, primarily because women live longer than men.
  • People with fewer years of education appear to be at higher risk for Alzheimer’s and other dementias than those with more years of education.
  • Between 2000 and 2025, states and regions across the country are expected to see double-digit percentage increases in the number of people with Alzheimer’s.

As the incidence of Alzheimer’s has increased, research has broadened from treatment to prevention.

  • There is no treatment to slow or stop the deterioration of brain cells in Alzheimer’s disease, but studies show that active medical management of Alzheimer’s and other dementias can improve quality of life through all stages of the disease.
  • A growing body of evidence suggests the health of the brain is closely linked to the overall health of the heart and blood vessels and Alzheimer’s risk may be reduced by reducing the risk of heart disease.
  • Data suggests it may be possible to prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease through a combination of healthful habits, including regular physical exercise and a low-fat diet rich in fruits and vegetables—that may support brain health.

People with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are high users of health care and long-term care services.

  • Alzheimer’s disease triples health care costs for Americans age 65 or older.
  • Average per person payments for health and long-term care are higher for Medicare beneficiaries with Alzheimer’s and other dementias than for other Medicare beneficiaries.
  • American businesses also incur high indirect costs due to lost productivity and missed work for employees who are caring for a person with Alzheimer’s.
  • Older people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias have more hospital stays, skilled nursing home stays and home health care visits than other older people.
  • About 70 percent of people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias live at home. In 2008, caregivers provided 8.5 billion hours of unpaid care, valued at $94 billion.
  • Medicaid is the only public program that will cover the costs of long-term nursing home care that most people with Alzheimer’s require in the late stages of the illness.
  • In 2007, 69 percent of all nursing home residents had some degree of cognitive impairment.

   Download the Table: "Individuals Living with Alzheimer’s Disease"

Excerpted from: Alzheimer’s Association, “2009 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures,” 

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