Attorney Miranda Richard reviews the 2017 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures from the Alz Association. “Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disease and the most common cause of dementia.” Alzheimer’s Association. 2017 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures. Alzheimers Dement 2017;13:325-373., https://www.alz.org/documents_custom/2017-facts-and-figures.pdf, p. 5. The Alzheimer’s Association released the 2017 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures publication to provide updated facts and figures regarding Alzheimer’s Disease. The publication includes many helpful statistics, including the following:
• Alzheimer’s Disease is prevalent in the older population in the United States. “An estimated 5.5 million Americans of all ages are living with Alzheimer’s dementia in 2017.” Id. at 18.
• Ten percent of those “age 65 and older [have] Alzheimer’s dementia.” Id. at 18.
• “Almost two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s are women.” Id. at 19.
• “There is evidence that missed diagnoses of Alzheimer’s and other dementias are more common among older African-Americans and Hispanics than among older whites.” Id. at 20.

The impact of the large baby boom generation continues to shape society as they age. They are increasing falling within the range where Alzheimer’s Disease develops. For instance, “the first members of the baby boom generation turned 70 in 2016.” Id. at 18. “[T]he population of Americans age 65 and older is projected to nearly double from 48 million to 88 million by 2050.” Id. at 18. To put this in perspective “3 percent of people age 65-74, 17 percent of people age 75-84, and 32 percent of people age 85 or older have Alzheimer’s dementia.” Id. at 11. Surely the impact of Alzheimer’s Disease on society will continue to grow as the baby boomers age out of middle-age. Keep in mind that many of these baby boomers are also taking care of their own aging parents even as they begin to enter the typical age where Alzheimer’s Disease is diagnosed.

The economic impact of unpaid caretakers on society cannot be ignored. “In 2016, caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias provided an estimated 18.2 billion hours of informal (that is, unpaid) assistance, a contribution to the nation valued at $230.1 billion.” Id. at 33. The publication thoroughly discusses the impact of caregiving among the caregivers, including both the economic, emotional, and health impact of caregiving. Id. at 37-43. Figure 10 on page 43 of the publication outlines the impact on work for those who provided unpaid care. Id. at 43.

The financial impact of Alzheimer’s Disease can be felt in other areas of society as well. The cost of paying for private paying in a nursing home or assisted living community can quickly deplete an elder’s financial resources. “The average cost for a private room in a nursing home is $253 per day, or $92,378 per year” and the average cost of assisted living is “$43,539 per year.” Id. at 54.

Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s Disease is eventually fatal. Id. at 30. “Studies indicate that people age 65 and older survive an average of 4 to 8 years after a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s dementia, yet some live as long as 20 years with Alzheimer’s.” Id. at 30. “At age 80, approximately 75 percent of people living with Alzheimer’s dementia are expected to be in a nursing home compared with only 4 percent of the general population at age 80.” Id. at 30.

Some genes indicate whether someone is more likely to develop Alzheimer’s Disease in the future. Id. at 10. There are other risk factors for Alzheimer’s Disease discussed within the publication as well. Id. at 11.

Some of the most helpful information within this lengthy publication are the tables, which provide condensed information and comparisons. Table 1 within the report outlines “Causes of Dementia and Associated Characteristics.” Id. at 6. Table 2 outlines the “Signs of Alzheimer’s or Other Dementias Compared with Typical Age-Related Changes.” Id. at 9. Table 3 separates the “Projections of Total Numbers of Americans Age 65 and Older with Alzheimer’s Dementia by State.” Id. at 20.

The overall impact of Alzheimer’s Disease cannot be ignored. In addition, the impact the disease has on individual lives is devastating, both to the person experiencing it and to those who love and care for that person. Certainly, this justifies the continued study of this disease and continued search for a possible cure in the future.

The full publication can be found here: https://www.alz.org/documents_custom/2017-facts-and-figures.pdf
Note: internal citations within the publication were omitted in this post.