Alzheimer's report hints at a future health crisis bigger than COVID-19
Published in Health & Fitness
The costs of Alzheimer’s disease – human and financial – are rising sharply in California and nationally, and census projections for America’s rapidly aging population suggest the scope of the disease soon might rival what America saw during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In fact, new data from the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2023 Facts and Figures report, released March 15, points to several ways that the disease is already reshaping American life:
-- Last year, about 200,000 Americans over the age of 65 were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, bringing the number of dementia patients in that age group to about 6.7 million. By 2050, the Alzheimer’s Association projects that number will nearly double, to about 13 million. (In California, the number of people with Alzheimer’s has been growing at a slightly faster clip, and by 2025 is expected to hit 840,000, up 21.7% in a five-year window.)
-- Annual spending on care for people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia grew by about $24 billion last year, to about $345 billion. By 2050, such spending is expected to approach $1 trillion.
-- The value of unpaid caregiving is already nearly equal to paid caregiving. Last year, about 11 million Americans served as caregivers for people with Alzheimer’s, offering an estimated 18 billion hours of unpaid labor worth $339.5 billion. Those numbers, too, could double as the population ages up. Overall, the U.S. Census Bureau projects the number of Americans age 65 and older – the key age group hit by Alzheimer’s – to jump from about 63 million today to about 88 million by 2050.
Other data from the Alzheimer’s Association highlight different aspects of the disease and its social effects, from possible treatments to the physical and emotional toll on caregivers.
Here are some takeaways from this year’s report:
It took about 13 months, give or take, for pharmaceutical companies and the government to come up with vaccines and treatments for COVID-19.
Alzheimer’s, to date, has been more stubborn.
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