Alzheimer’s Disease by the numbers

Group of SeniorsThis year, September 21st  was World Alzheimer’s Disease Day.  This day represents a time for action, a calling to do something about this devastating condition.  The numbers speak for themselves:

  • 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia.
  • More than 5 million Americans are living with the disease. Here in Georgia, over 11% of seniors today have Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Every 67 seconds someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s.
  • Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. It kills more than prostate cancer and breast cancer combined.
  • There are approximately 500,000 people dying each year because they have Alzheimer’s.

The problem is growing exponentially as we face a tsunami of aging citizens of the world:

  • A highly-cited published research analysis estimates that the number of people with Alzheimer’s around the world will jump from 36 million today to 115 million by 2050.
  • Deaths from Alzheimer’s increased 68 percent between 2000 and 2010, while deaths from other major diseases decreased. Alzheimer’s disease is the only cause of death among the top 10 in America that cannot be prevented or cured.

Women are hit the hardest:

  • Almost two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s are women.
  • In her 60s, a woman’s estimated lifetime risk for developing Alzheimer’s is 1 in 6; for breast cancer it is 1 in 11.
  • More than 60 percent of Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers are women.
  • There are 2.5 times more women than men providing intensive “on-duty” care 24 hours a day for someone with Alzheimer’s.

It has a cost to all of us:

  • In 2013, 15.5 million caregivers provided an estimated 17.7 billion hours of unpaid care valued at more than $220 billion. Nearly one in every five dollars spent by Medicare is on people with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. The average per-person Medicare spending for those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias is three times higher than for those without these conditions.

Supporting research is the answer:

  • Only 4 drugs are currently approved for Alzheimer’s and they can only slow the progression. They have limited efficacy. No new drugs have come on the market for over 10 years for Alzheimer’s disease, whereas 5-10 new cancer-fighting drugs are typically approved each year, and there have been three new antidepressants approved over the past three years. We only hope to see a new treatment for Alzheimer’s disease at some point.
  • Research shows that people involved in clinical studies do somewhat better than people in a similar stage of their disease who are not enrolled, regardless of whether the experimental treatment works. This may be due to the general high quality of care provided during clinical studies.
  • Clinical trials are the only way to test whether a potential intervention for Alzheimer’s disease is safe and effective in humans. Phase III trials are expensive, complex, and lengthy and involve hundreds or thousands of participants from around the world…but there is no financial cost to you as a study participant…just your time.

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