New Alzheimer's Association Report Details Disease's Impact

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • As we enter 2010, many people are thinking about New Year’s resolutions. In setting those resolutions, most people often begin with the end in mind and also try to have an idea of the starting place. It’s the same with the battle against Alzheimer’s - we need to know what the current state of affairs is before we move forward in trying to provide support. Therefore, I wanted to share some interesting information from the Alzheimer’s Association’s new report, 2009 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures. This information provides a good snapshot of where we are so we – people who have dementia, caregivers, and policymakers – can begin to think about next steps.

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    Research into Alzheimer’s Disease

    -          Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia and accounts for 60-80 percent of the cases. Vascular dementia is the second most common type of dementia.  Other types listed include mixed dementia (which means the presence of Alzheimer’s and another type of dementia), dementia with Lewy bodies, Parkinson’s disease (since many people who are in the later stages of this disease develop dementia), frontotemporal dementia, Cruetzfeldt-Jakob disease, and normal pressure hydrocephalus.

    -          Although no treatment is available to slow or stop the deterioration of brain cells of people who have Alzheimer’s disease, studies consistently indicate that active medical management of Alzheimer’s and other dementias can significantly improve the quality of life for diagnosed individuals in all stages of the disease as well as their caregivers.

    -          The emerging field of prevention has provided some of the most promising research in dementia. The evidence suggests that the health of the brain is linked closely to the health of the heart and blood vessels. Therefore, management of cardiovascular risk factors (high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and overweight) can help avoid or delay cognitive decline. Physical exercise also has been found to play a significant role in maintaining lifelong cognitive health. Limited data also suggests a low-fat diet rich in fruits and vegetables, a robust social network, and a lifetime of intellectual curiosity and mental stimulation also may prove beneficial.


    Who is More Susceptible?

    -          More women than men develop dementia. This difference is due to women’s longer life spans, which increases the time during which they can develop Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

    -          People with fewer years of education appear to have higher rates of dementia. One study found that people with less than 12 years of education have a 15-percent greater risk of developing dementia than people with 12-15 years of education and a 35-percent greater risk of developing dementia than people with more than 15 years of education.

    -          The number of Americans with Alzheimer’s and other dementias is increasing every year due to the growing population of older citizens. Currently, one in eight persons ages 65 and older has Alzheimer’s disease. The aging of the Baby Boom generation is projected to cause the number of cases to escalate rapidly in the coming years.


    Where Is Alzheimer’s Expected to be More Prevalent by 2025?

    -          The South, Midwest and West are expected to experience an increase of 30-50 percent (or greater) in the number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s by 2025. Some western states (Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming) are projected to experience an increase of 50 percent or more of their populations that are age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s.

    -          California and Florida are expected to have more than 500,000 people with Alzheimer’s by 2025. Additionally Texas, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and North Carolina are projected to have between 201,000-499,000 people with the disease.

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    -          Some states are expected to experience an 80 percent increase in the number of people 65 and older from 2000 to 2025. States that are projected to an increase of between 81.1 percent and 127 percent in the number of people with Alzheimer’s between 2000-2025 include Washington State, Alaska, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah, and Colorado. States that are projected to have an increase of between 49.1 percent  and 81 percent are California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia.

    -          Of those states, Utah is projected to have a 127-percent increase in the number of people with Alzheimer’s from 2000 to 2025. Alaska is projected to have a 126-percent increase, Colorado a 124-percent increase, and Wyoming a 114-percent increase. Idaho and Nevada are projected to each have a 100-percent increase.


    Alzheimer’s and Death

    -          Alzheimer’s was the sixth-leading cause of death across all ages in the U.S. in 2006 and was the fifth-leading cause of death for those aged 65 and older.

    -          The number of deaths from Alzheimer’s disease increased by 47 percent between 2000 and 2006, while deaths by other diseases decreased (heart disease, -11.5 percent; breast cancer, -0.6 percent, prostate cancer, -14.3 percent, and stroke, -18.1 percent) during that same time period.

    -          The highest age-adjusted rates for deaths due to Alzheimer’s disease occurred in Alabama, Louisiana, South Carolina, Tennessee, Arizona and Washington State.

    -          In a study of national death certifications issued during 2001, almost 67 percent of people aged 65 and older who died of dementia were in nursing homes. Of patients dying from cancer, 20.6 percent died in nursing homes. Of those dying of other conditions, 28 percent died in nursing homes.

    Caregiving for Those with Alzheimer’s

    -          Almost 10 million Americans provide unpaid care for a person with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. These caregivers are primarily family members, but also include friends and neighbors. The number of family and other unpaid caregivers ranges from 15,000 in Alaska to 1.1 million in California.

    -          Many people with Alzheimer’s or dementia have other serious medical conditions which have to be managed by family and other unpaid caregivers.

  • -          In 2008, the 9.9 million family and other unpaid caregivers of people with dementia provided 8.5 billion hours of time. This represents an average of 16.6 hours of care per caregiver week and 863 hours of care per caregiver per year. Caregivers of people with dementia provide more hours of help on average than caregivers of other older people.

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    -          Besides causing high levels of emotional stress and depression for family members and other unpaid caregivers, caregiving has a negative impact on the health, employment, income and financial security of many caregivers.

    These facts and figures provide a good picture of where the United States stands in its battle with Alzheimer’s. I’ll try to add some additional information from the report in next week’s sharepost. Until, then, have a Happy New Year!


Published On: January 04, 2010