By Jamie Marshall
The Alzheimer’s Association has released its annual report of facts and figures about the disease, reporting that 5.5 million Americans suffer from the disease, 200,000 of whom are below age 65.
Most of those with Alzheimer’s, 82 percent, are 75 or older, with more of these between 75 and 84 than those 85 and older. This contrasts with a similar article I wrote six years ago, when most people with Alzheimer's were 85 and over. I assume this has to do with changing demographics: there are relatively few Americans in the older cohort because they were born during the baby bust of the Depression -- 85 years ago was 1932. This trend will continue for another decade and a half, and then the "older old" population will skyrocket as the oldest Baby Boomers start reaching the 85 year old threshold beginning in 2031.
The Association predicts that the number of Americans afflicted with Alzheimer's will increase by 35 percent to 7.1 million in 2025 and by almost 300 percent to 13.8 million in 2050, unless a cure is found.
Women are slightly more likely to get Alzheimer's than men, 21.1 percent as opposed to 19.5 percent likelihood for 65-year olds, probably because they're also likely to live longer. The combination of those two trends -- longer life expectancy and higher likelihood of incurring dementia -- also means that they are more likely to need paid care providers, since their husbands are less likely to be available (and less inclined on average?) to provide the necessary care.
Interestingly, the Alzheimer’s Association reports that the number of Massachusetts residents afflicted with Alzheimer’s and other cognitive impairments has stayed constant over the last two decades, with about 120,000 in 2000 and today. But the number is projected to increase by a quarter to 150,000 in 2025, which is 10,000 more than the Association's prediction of 140,000 back in 2011.