Alzheimer’s Disease: New Research Shows the Impact

When the Alzheimer’s Association released new figures in 2017 about the disease, one figure stood out: 1.

That is the number of diseases in the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States that do not have a cure or prevention—and cannot be slowed. This disease is, of course, Alzheimer’s.

There is another figure that shows part of the reason why: Between 2002 and 2012, 244 Alzheimer’s drugs were tested in clinical trials. Only one received approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

The latest numbers, included in the Alzheimer’s Association publication 2017 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, showed that one in 10 Americans over age 65 has some form of dementia, including Alzheimer’s. It’s a group that will continue to increase as the population ages. By 2050, more than 88 million Americans will be 65-plus. That’s almost double the current population of 48 million.

More women than men have the disease. In fact, about two-thirds of Alzheimer’s diagnoses in the U.S. are in women. Some of the latest research indicates a possible link between the disease and estrogen, the publication says.

While every state in the U.S. will see at least a 14 percent increase of people with Alzheimer’s between 2017 and 2025, the West and Southeast will see the greatest percentage of increases. States popular with retirees—like Florida, Arizona and New Mexico—may see increases of more than 50 percent. States with these large populations will see an impact on their healthcare systems.

But much Alzheimer’s care is provided by an unpaid caregiver—likely a family member. About 46 percent of those who provide help to an older adult do so for someone with Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s Association tallied that unpaid care at 18.2 billion hours, a contribution valued at $230.1 billion.

The impact of caring for a person with Alzheimer’s extends well beyond time. Caregivers for those with Alzheimer’s are more likely to feel financial, emotional and physical difficulties. Thirty to forty percent of those caring for a person with Alzheimer’s experience depression, compared to five-17 percent for caregivers for persons with other diseases.

Of course, not all people with Alzheimer’s can be cared for in the home. The costs of long-term care will top a quarter of a trillion dollars in 2017. More than half of that will come from Medicare. Those with Alzheimer’s also are more likely to be hospitalized for a co-existing condition, such as heart failure, stroke or diabetes.

It is clear that Alzheimer’s disease has a significant impact on those 65-plus, their families and society in general. Science is improving in terms of diagnoses and more understanding. But it is still a long way from changing Alzheimer’s place as the only leading cause of death without a cure or treatment.

 

 


Source:
Alzheimer’s Association https://www.alz.org/documents_custom/2017-facts-and-figures.pdf