An estimated 5.2 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s disease (2013). This includes an estimated 5 million people age 65 and older, and approximately 200,000 individuals under age 65 who have younger-onset Alzheimer’s. In Texas alone, there are currently 340,000 people living with Alzheimer's disease, and by 2025, that number is expected to increase to 470,000. One in nine people age 65 and older (11 percent) has Alzheimer’s disease. About one-third of people age 85 and older (32 percent) have Alzheimer’s disease. Of those with Alzheimer’s disease, an estimated 4 percent are under age 65, 13 percent are 65 to 74, 44 percent are 75 to 84, and 38 percent are 85 or older. Women, who on average live longer than men, are more likely than men to have Alzheimer's disease. While most people in the United States living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias are non-Hispanic whites, older African-Americans and Hispanics are proportionately more likely than older whites to have Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
The greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease is advancing age, but Alzheimer’s is not a typical part of aging. A small percentage of Alzheimer’s disease cases, probably less than 1 percent, are caused by rare genetic variations found in a small number of families worldwide. These variations involve chromosome 21 on the gene for the amyloid precursor protein, chromosome 14 on the gene for the presenilin 1 protein and chromosome 1 on the gene for presenilin 2. In these inherited forms of Alzheimer’s, the disease tends to develop before age 65, sometimes in individuals as young as 30. A genetic factor in late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (Alzheimer’s disease developing at age 65 or older) is apolipoprotein E-e4 (ApoE-e4). ApoE-e4 is one of three common forms of the ApoE gene, which provides the blueprint for a protein that carries cholesterol in the bloodstream. Everyone inherits one form of the ApoE gene from each of his or her parents. Those who inherit one ApoE-e4 gene have increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Those who inherit two ApoE-e4 genes have an even higher risk. However, inheriting one or two copies of the gene does not guarantee that the individual will develop Alzheimer’s.
According to the 2013 projections released by the national Alzheimer's Association:
♦ Alzheimer's is the most common type of dementia, accounting for an estimated 60-80 percent of all cases of dementia in Americans.
♦ The baby boom generation is starting to reach the age range of elevated risk for Alzheimer’s and other dementias, with the first baby boomers having reached age 65 in 2011. By 2030, the segment of the U.S. population age 65 and older is expected to grow dramatically, and the estimated 72 million older Americans will make up approximately 20 percent of the total population (up from 13 percent in 2010).
♦ By 2030, all baby boomers will be at least 65 years old. That year, the number of people aged 65 and older with Alzheimer's is expected to reach 7.7 million, a nearly 50 percent increase from the 5.2 million age 65 order older currently (2011) affected.
Alzheimer's Impact on Caregivers
More than 15 million Americans provide unpaid care for a person with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia. Unpaid caregivers are primarily immediate family members, but they also may be other relatives and friends. In 2012, caregivers provided an estimated 17.5 billion hours of unpaid care, a contribution to the nation valued at over $216 billion, which is approximately half of the net value of Wal-Mart sales in 2011 and more than eight times the total sales of McDonald’s in 2011.
In Texas, the costs of caregiving are staggering. In 2012, approximately 1.3 million caregivers provided 1.5 billion hours of unpaid care for a total cost of $18.2 billion.
Caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias provide care for a longer time, on average, than do caregivers of older adults with other conditions. Forty-three percent of caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias provide care for one to four years compared with 33 percent of caregivers of people without dementia.
The chronic stress of caregiving is associated with physiological changes that indicate risk of developing chronic conditions. For example, a series of recent studies found that under certain conditions some Alzheimer’s caregivers were more likely to have elevated biomarkers of cardiovascular disease risk and impaired kidney function risk than those who were not caregivers.
Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States, and the fifth-leading cause of death for those age 65 and older. One in three seniors will die with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia.
In Texas, 5,209 deaths in 2010 were due to Alzheimer’s disease.
As the population ages, Alzheimer’s is becoming a more common cause of death. While deaths from other major causes have decreased, deaths from Alzheimer’s disease have increased. Between 2000 and 2010, deaths attributed to Alzheimer’s disease increased 68 percent, while those attributed to the number one cause of death, heart disease, decreased 16 percent.
Studies indicate that people age 65 and older survive an average of four to eight years after a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, yet some live as long as 20 years with Alzheimer’s.
Cost of Alzheimer’s Disease
The costs of caring for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias will soar from an estimated $203 billion in 2013 to a projected $1.2 trillion per year by 2050.
In 2013, the direct costs to society of caring for individuals with Alzheimer's disease will total an estimated $203 billion, including $142 billion in costs to Medicare and Medicaid. Total payments for health care, long-term care and hospice for people with Alzheimer's and other dementias are projected to increase from $203 billion in 2013 to $1.2 trillion in 2050 (in current dollars). This dramatic rise includes a 500% increase in combined Medicare and Medicaid spending.
Older individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias have more hospital stays, skilled nursing facility stays and home health care visits than other older people. Individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias have more than three times as many hospital stays per year as other older people.
People with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are high users of health care, long-term care and hospice. Total payments for these types of care from all sources, including Medicare and Medicaid, are estimated to exceed $200 billion in 2012. These costs are three times higher for older people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias than for non-demented older people. As the number of people with dementia grows in the future, payments for their care will increase dramatically.
Source: National Alzheimer's Association 2013 Facts and Figures