The Alzheimer’s Association released their annual report around the time the coronavirus pandemic was ramping up, but I did not want to overlook the latest findings. I thought it was especially appropriate to post this today, on what would have been my father’s 88th birthday.
Here are the main takeaways from the 2020 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report:
- Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. 1 in 3 seniors die with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. The death rate from Alzheimer’s has skyrocketed. Between 2000 and 2018, the number of deaths from Alzheimer’s disease has more than doubled, increasing 146%.
- More than 5 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease. Women make up two-thirds of that number; African-Americans are about twice as likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other dementias compared to whites in the same age group; Hispanics are about 1.5 times as likely to develop Alzheimer’s or other dementias compared to whites in the same age group.
- Unless significant medical breakthroughs are made, by 2050, the number of Americans age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s dementia may grow to a projected 13.8 million.
- 16 million unpaid dementia caregivers provide care valued at $244 billion annually. One in three caregivers are 65 and over, and two-thirds are women. One-quarter of dementia caregivers belong to the “sandwich generation,” caring for both an aging parent and minor children.
- The cost of Alzheimer’s care to the nation is staggering. In 2020 alone, Alzheimer’s and other dementias will cost the nation $305 billion. What’s even more sobering is that half of primary care physicians believe the American healthcare system is not prepared for the growing number of those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
While these reports highlight the challenges we face in providing care for our loved ones with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, the Alzheimer’s Association proposes an action plan focused on education and recruitment to build up a corps of geriatric providers who understand the unique challenges that those with dementia and their caregivers face. The Alzheimer’s Association also encourages greater funding in the areas of rural healthcare and telemedicine.