In 2014, roughly five million adults ages 65 and over had Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD). That’s 1.6 percent of the U.S. population, and it’s expected to increase to 3.3 percent, or 13.9 million, according to the study, “Racial and ethnic estimates of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias in the United States (2015–2060) in adults aged ≥65 years,” published in “Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.”
It’s estimated that due to projected population growth, Hispanic Americans will have the largest increase. Because of the relative size of the demographic, non-Hispanic whites will continue to have the most Alzheimer’s patients overall. The study is said to be the first to forecast Alzheimer’s disease by race and ethnicity.
“This study shows that as the U.S. population increases, the number of people affected by Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias will rise, especially among minority populations,” CDC Director Robert R. Redfield ssaid in a CDC news release. “Early diagnosis is key to helping people and their families cope with loss of memory, navigate the healthcare system, and plan for their care in the future.”
By 2060, there is expected to be 2.2 million African-Americans with Alzheimer’s and related dementias, and 3.2 million Hispanics.
In 2014, African-Americans ages 65 and older had the highest prevalence of ADRD, at 13.8 percent. That was followed by Hispanics, at 12.2 percent; non-Hispanic whites, 10.3 percent; American Indian and Alaska natives, 9.1 percent; and Asian and Pacific Islanders, 8.4 percent.
As the United States becomes a mostly minority nation by 2050, increases in the number of non-Hispanic whites with ADRD will start to level off by 2030, the study says. Meanwhile, the number of patients among minority populations — particularly Hispanics — will continue to grow.
A progressive, neurodegenerative brain disorder, Alzheimer’s disease is the fifth most common cause of death in U.S. residents 65 and older.
The study suggests that the estimates should be used to guide planning and interventions related to those with ADRD and their caregivers. It also urges the country to advance goals outlined in the 2016 “National Plans to Address ADRD,” which describes the development of preventive interventions or treatment options that may insure that study projections are not reached.
In addition, the study promotes “The Healthy Brain Initiative: A National Public Health Road Map to Maintaining Cognitive Health,” to show how public health agencies can foster cognitive function and early ADRD diagnoses. It also can help local communities provide resources to patients and caregivers.
“It is important for people who think their daily lives are impacted by memory loss to discuss these concerns with a healthcare provider,” said Kevin Matthews, health geographer and lead author of the study, with the CDC’s Division of Population Health within the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
“An early assessment and diagnosis is key to planning for their healthcare needs, including long-term services and supports, as the disease progresses,” he said.
The CDC works to understand and enhance the lives of those with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers through data collection and analyses; promoting awareness; and collaborating with partners to train healthcare workers about early signs of dementia in diverse populations.