The number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease is growing — and growing fast. An estimated 5.4 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s disease in 2016.
- Of the 5.4 million Americans with Alzheimer’s, an estimated 5.2 million people are age 65 and older, and approximately 200,000 individuals are under age 65 (younger-onset Alzheimer’s).
- One in nine people age 65 and older has Alzheimer’s disease.
- By mid-century, someone in the United States will develop the disease every 33 seconds.
These numbers will escalate rapidly in coming years, as the baby boom generation has begun to reach age 65 and beyond, the age range of greatest risk of Alzheimer’s. By 2050, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease may nearly triple, from 5.2 million to a projected 13.8 million, barring the development of medical breakthroughs to prevent or cure the disease. Previous estimates based on high range projections of population growth provided by the U.S. Census suggest that this number may be as high as 16 million.
Among people age 70, 61 percent of those with Alzheimer’s are expected to die before the age of 80 compared with 30 percent of people without Alzheimer’s — a rate twice as high.
Alzheimer’s disease is officially listed as the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. It is the fifth-leading cause of death for people age 65 and older. As the population of the United States ages, Alzheimer’s is becoming a more common cause of death. Although deaths from other major causes have decreased significantly in the last decade, deaths from Alzheimer’s disease have increased significantly — 71 percent. In 2013, over 84,000 Americans died from Alzheimer’s according to official death certificates; however, in 2016, an estimated 700,000 people with Alzheimer’s will die, and the disease likely will contribute to many of those deaths.
Alzheimer’s is the only disease among the top 10 causes of death in America that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed.
In 2015, 15.9 million family and friends provided 18.1 billion hours of unpaid care to those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. That care had an estimated economic value of $221.3 billion.
- Approximately two-thirds of caregivers are women, and 34 percent are age 65 or older.
- 41 percent of caregivers have a household income of $50,000 or less.
- On average, care contributors lose over $15,000 in annual income as a result of reducing or quitting work to meet the demands of caregiving.
Alzheimer’s takes a devastating toll on caregivers. Nearly 60 percent of Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers rate the emotional stress of caregiving as high or very high; about 40 percent suffer from depression. One in five care contributors cut back on their own doctor visits because of their care responsibilities. And, among caregivers, 74 percent report they are “somewhat” to “very” concerned about maintaining their own health since becoming a caregiver.
Alzheimer’s disease is one of the costliest chronic diseases to society. The growing Alzheimer’s crisis is helping to bankrupt Medicare.
- In 2016, total payments for health care, long-term care and hospice are estimated to be $236 billion for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, with just under half of the costs borne by Medicare.
- Medicare and Medicaid are expected to cover $160 billion, or 68 percent, of the total health care and long-term care payments for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
- Nearly one in every five Medicare dollars is spent on people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. In 2050, it will be one in every three dollars.
Unless something is done, in 2050, Alzheimer’s is projected to cost more than $1 trillion (in 2016 dollars). Costs to Medicare will increase 360 percent. This dramatic rise includes a nearly five-fold increase in government spending under Medicare and Medicaid and a nearly five-fold increase in out-of pocket spending.
Alzheimer’s takes a devastating toll – not just on those with the disease, but on entire families.
How much of their own money do families spend to provide for the needs of the person with Alzheimer’s? Are families prepared to handle the financial impact of Alzheimer’s disease? Because studies on this important topic are scarce, the Alzheimer’s Association commissioned a nationwide scientific survey of more than 3,500 Americans who were asked these questions and more.
Alarmingly, the survey revealed that many care contributors had to cut back on basic necessities — such as food and medical care — for themselves and their families. They are 28 percent more likely than other adults to eat less or go hungry because they cannot afford to pay for food. At the same time, many survey respondents had misconceptions about what expenses Medicare and Medicaid cover, leaving them unprepared to handle the tremendous costs associated with the disease. Taken together, the results of the survey point to the significant financial burden placed on families because their friend or family member with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia can no longer afford to take care of themselves.
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