What are some of the growing statistics surrounding Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is a debilitating brain disorder that impairs memory, critical thinking skills, personality and behavior.

The disease accounts for about 60 to 80 percent of all diagnosed dementia cases, and it currently affects more than 5 million Americans.

According to the latest 2016 Facts and Figures published by the National Alzheimer’s Association, every 66 seconds someone in the United States develops the disease. One in nine people over the age of 65 have it, and one-third of individuals age 85 and older have the disease. Further, 81 percent of individuals who have Alzheimer’s disease are age 75 or older.

Alzheimer’s is now the most feared disease among older adults.

This may be in part because Alzheimer’s ranks sixth as the leading cause of death. The disease kills more individuals than breast and prostate cancer combined, as one in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia.

It is also the only disease in the top 10 that has no prevention, maintenance or cure. Medications prescribed for Alzheimer’s disease are not particularly effective in slowing the progression and only help to subdue the symptoms for about half of those who try them, and for the most part, these medications are only effective for about a year.

Financially, Alzheimer’s disease will cripple the national health system. In 2016, Alzheimer’s and other dementias will cost the nation an estimated $236 billion, as family caregivers cope with rising costs in their estimated $5,000 per year expenditures in caring for a loved one with the disease.

In the greater Baton Rouge area, an estimated 20,000 individuals are affected by Alzheimer’s or a dementia-related disorder, with approximately 84,000 in the entire state. By 2025, that figure will increase by 31 percent, to 110,000 people.

Alzheimer’s statistics are undeniably grim, which present the great need not only for research, but also for the provision of programs and resources to assist the affected individuals, their caregivers and healthcare professionals.

Further, for individuals diagnosed with the disease, the earlier the diagnosis the better as it can lead to inclusion in clinical trials, access to education, training and support services and to medications that can help treat symptoms, ease anxiety about the cause of original symptoms and also afford better communication with family members in managing the disease. An early diagnosis gives the individual the ability to plan for the future.

Questions about Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia disorder? Contact Dana Territo, the Memory Whisperer, Director of Services at Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area, (225) 334-7494, advice@alzbr.org, or visit the organization at 3772 North Blvd., Baton Rouge.