Alzheimer’s Organization Delivers Grim Statistics in Annual Report
Primarily, the devastating numbers have gone up. Unsurprising. The United States houses an aging population, and as the number of people who are 65 years of age and older increases, so does the number of Americans who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
An estimated 5.8 million Americans aged 65 and older were living with Alzheimer’s disease in 2020. That number has increased to 6.2 million in 2021. Of those diagnosed, 72% are 75 or older.
The number of Alzheimer’s cases among people between ages 65 and 74 grew to 1.72 million (27.6%) in 2021 from 1 million (17%) in 2020.
However, the number significantly decreased for people with Alzheimer’s who are 75 to 84 years old. In 2020, the folks within this age demographic topped out at 2.7 million, or 47%. The estimated number was 2.25 million (36.1%) this year.
The statistics are just as grave for the 85 years and older category. The number of cases increased from 2.1 million to 2.27 million, rising slightly from 36% to 36.4%.
Last year, one in 10 Americans aged 65 or older were estimated to have Alzheimer’s disease, but the prevalence is now one in nine.
The problem with numbers
The problem with numbers and statistics is that we tend to disregard them. Until we connect the facts with real people, perhaps to someone within our own family, the numbers don’t quite drive home the point.
That point is that Alzheimer’s disease can reach out and touch anyone at any time. Each number represents an individual — a parent, a spouse, a friend — and one day it could represent you. You could be the one in nine people who get the disease, or the one in eight — whatever the number may be in 2022 and the years to come.
Recognize the enemy
Alzheimer’s disease is certainly a terrible foe, but complacency is also the enemy of health-related issues, and perhaps especially of Alzheimer’s, which claims the lives of more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
A loose definition of complacency is: “It’ll never happen to me.” Complacency is akin to denial, if not worse. Denial requires acknowledgment. Something occurs and is denied. Complacency allows us to go on our merry way. If we don’t think about it, it won’t occur.
But the numbers bear witness to the fact that Alzheimer’s is occurring at an alarming rate. The numbers and stats released by the Alzheimer’s Association should be a wake-up call for all of us.
Stop being complacent if, for instance, you are a member of the demographic that believes they won’t live long enough to get Alzheimer’s disease. Yes, the average age for contracting the disease is 65 and older, which, by the way, isn’t so old anymore.
Life expectancy in the U.S. dropped a bit in 2020. Experts blame COVID-19 for the decline, but even so, people are staying alive well into their 70s and 80s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and reported by National Public Radio.
Also, people younger than 65 are susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease, as it’s no respecter of persons or even age. In the U.S., there are more than 200,000 people who’ve been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Age isn’t a reason to be complacent about seeking information if you or a loved one is showing signs of dementia.
Demand to be heard
If you’re a person of color, don’t allow discrimination to stand in your way of being diagnosed. Refuse to allow another person’s complacency about your health to dictate how you’ll proceed toward a diagnosis for you or a loved one. Seek help until you find it.
There are health professionals who take seriously their oath to first “do no harm.” Denying health information is harmful. The 2021 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report found that “discrimination is a barrier to Alzheimer’s and dementia care.”
Don’t stand for it. Keep pushing for answers. Go from one doctor to another if you have to, and when you meet race-related opposition, make an informal complaint to the healthcare agency and a formal complaint to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Note: Alzheimer’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Alzheimer’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Alzheimer’s disease.