More than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's. By 2050, this number is projected to rise to nearly 13 million.
1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer's or another dementia. It kills more than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.
In 2020, COVID-19 contributed to a 17% increase in Alzheimer's and dementia deaths.
In 2022, Alzheimer's and other dementias will cost the nation $321 billion. By 2050, these costs could reach nearly $1 trillion.
More than 11 million Americans provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer's or other dementias.
In 2021, these caregivers provided more than 16 billion hours of care valued at nearly $272 billion.
Fewer than 1 in 5 Americans are familiar with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which can be an early stage of Alzheimer's.
90% of physicians say it's important to diagnose MCI due to Alzheimer's, but over half say they are not fully comfortable diagnosing it.
About one-third of people with MCI due to Alzheimer's disease develop dementia within 5 years of diagnosis.
The number of Americans living with Alzheimer's is growing — and growing fast. More than 6 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer's.
An estimated 6.5 million Americans age 65 and older are living with Alzheimer's in 2022. Seventy-three percent are age 75 or older.
- About 1 in 9 age 65 and older (10.7%) has Alzheimer's.
- Almost two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer's are women.
- Older Black Americans are about twice as likely to have Alzheimer's or other dementias as older Whites.
- Older Hispanics are about one and one-half times as likely to have Alzheimer's or other dementias as older Whites.
As the number of older Americans grows rapidly, so too will the number of new and existing cases of Alzheimer's. By 2050, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s may grow to a projected 12.7 million, barring the development of medical breakthroughs to prevent, slow or cure Alzheimer’s disease.
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Alzheimer’s is not just memory loss. Alzheimer’s kills.
- 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer's or another dementia. It kills more than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.
- Deaths from Alzheimer’s have more than doubled between 2000 and 2019, while those from heart disease — the leading cause of death — have decreased.
- At age 70, seniors living with Alzheimer's are twice as likely to die before age 80 than those who do not have the disease.
People age 65 and older survive an average of four to eight years after a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, yet some live as long as 20 years with Alzheimer’s. This reflects the slow, uncertain progression of the disease.
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Eighty-three percent of the help provided to older adults in the United States comes from family members, friends or other unpaid caregivers. Nearly half of all caregivers who provide help to older adults do so for someone living with Alzheimer's or another dementia.
Who are the caregivers?
- About 30% of caregivers are age 65 or older.
- Approximately two-thirds of caregivers are women; more specifically, over one-third of dementia caregivers are daughters.
- Most caregivers (66%) live with the person with dementia in the community.
- Approximately one-quarter of dementia caregivers are “sandwich generation” caregivers — meaning that they care not only for an aging parent but also for at least one child.
Alzheimer's takes a devastating toll on caregivers. Compared with caregivers of people without dementia, twice as many caregivers of those with dementia indicate substantial emotional, financial and physical difficulties.
Of the total lifetime cost of caring for someone with dementia, 70% is borne by families — either through out-of-pocket health and long-term care expenses or from the value of unpaid care.
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As the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease increases, so does the need for additional members of the paid workforce who are involved in diagnosing, treating and caring for those living with the disease.
- Half of primary care physicians reported that they do not feel adequately prepared to care for individuals with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. More than 25% reported being “only sometimes” or “never” comfortable answering patient questions about Alzheimer’s or other dementias.
- The United States will have to nearly triple the number of geriatricians to effectively care for the number of people projected to have Alzheimer's in 2050.
- Few care professionals specialize in geriatrics:
- Only 12% of nurse practitioners have special expertise in gerontological care.
- Less than 1% of registered nurses, physician assistants and pharmacists identify themselves as specializing in geriatrics.
- Only 4% of social workers have formal certification in geriatric social work.
- The demand for direct care workers (roles such as nurses aides and home health aides) is projected to grow by more than 40% between 2016 and 2026, while their availability is expected to decline.
Effective communication with your doctor is important when you are seeking a diagnosis for memory loss. Be prepared to ask questions and be as honest as possible.
Cost to Nation
The costs of health care and long-term care for individuals living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias are substantial, and dementia is one of the costliest conditions to society.
In 2022, Alzheimer's and other dementias will cost the nation $321 billion, including $206 billion in Medicare and Medicaid payments combined. Unless a treatment to slow, stop or prevent the disease is developed, in 2050, Alzheimer's is projected to cost nearly $1 trillion (in 2022 dollars). This dramatic rise includes three-fold increases both in government spending under Medicare and Medicaid and in out-of-pocket spending.
- People living with Alzheimer's or other dementias have twice as many hospital stays per year as other older people.
- Medicare beneficiaries with Alzheimer's or other dementias are more likely than those without dementia to have other chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes and kidney disease.
- Older people living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias have more skilled nursing facility stays and home health care visits per year than other older people.
- People living with Alzheimer's or other dementias make up a large proportion of all elderly people who receive adult day services and nursing home care.
Ending Alzheimer's is possible — Congress can make it happen. Join us and help make Alzheimer’s a national priority.
Special Report — More Than Normal Aging: Understanding Mild Cognitive Impairment
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) causes cognitive changes that can be noticed by the person affected and by family members and friends, but do not affect the individual’s ability to carry out everyday activities. Because the changes are subtle, MCI is sometimes confused with normal aging and diagnosis can be challenging. Each year, an estimated 10% to 15% of people living with MCI go on to develop dementia. Within five years, about one-third of people with MCI due to Alzheimer’s disease develop dementia.
Despite the fact that 12% to 18% of people age 60 or older are living with MCI, public awareness is low:
- Fewer than 1 in 5 Americans (17% to 18%) across all racial and ethnic groups are familiar with MCI.
- Over half of all Americans say MCI sounds like "normal aging".
- Only 40% of Americans say they would talk to their doctor right away when experiencing symptoms of MCI. More than half say they would wait until they had symptoms for a while, wait until symptoms worsened or wait until others expressed concern before talking to their doctor.
An overwhelming majority of primary care physicians believe it is important to diagnose MCI and that early intervention is critical, but diagnosis is challenging and resources are unfamiliar.
- One-third (35%) of primary care physicians are not fully comfortable diagnosing MCI, and more than one-half (51%) are not fully comfortable diagnosing MCI due to Alzheimer’s disease.
- 96% of physicians say it's important to assess patients aged 60 and older for cognitive impairment, yet assessments are conducted for just half of their patients.
- Nine in 10 PCPs (90%) say it is hard to know where MCI ends and dementia begins.
- Only 1 in 4 PCPs (23%) say they are familiar with new therapies in the pipeline to address MCI due to Alzheimer’s disease, and only 1 in 5 (20%) report being familiar with clinical trials available to their patients with MCI.
These findings underscore the need to raise the public’s awareness of MCI, while also better preparing primary care physicians to identify, diagnose and manage their patients’ cognitive impairment at its earliest stages. Early intervention offers the best opportunity for better outcomes, as it can allow individuals more time to plan for the future, adopt lifestyle changes, participate in clinical trials and to live more fully, with a higher quality of life, for as long as possible.
Read More Than Normal Aging: Understanding Mild Cognitive Impairment and view the special report infographic.
Trust your instincts. Even subtle changes in memory and thinking can go beyond the typical aging process.
Alzheimer’s in Each State
The 2022 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures report contains data on the impact of this disease in every state across the nation. Click below to see the effect that Alzheimer's is having in your state.