New Alzheimer’s Stats: More caregivers, higher death rate, greater cost and growing prevalence

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The U.S. is entering a period of unprecedented Alzheimer’s disease growth, according to the Alzheimer’s Association 2011 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures. The new report shows there are nearly 15 million Americans providing unpaid care for someone with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia in the U.S. That is a 37 percent higher estimate than reported last year because of the availability of more recent source data.Perhaps even more alarming is the skyrocketing death rate from Alzheimer’s disease. While death rates from stroke, prostate cancer, breast cancer, heart disease and HIV declined 2000-2008, the death rate from Alzheimer’s increased 66 percent.The number of people with Alzheimer’s disease of all ages is 5.4 million. That means someone new will develop Alzheimer’s disease every 69 seconds – by 2050, someone new will develop Alzheimer’s every 33 seconds.

The cost of Alzheimer’s and related dementias is $183 billion – that’s an increase of $11 billion over the amount reported in 2010. All told, that is more than four times the increase in general inflation.

Not surprisingly, California has the highest unpaid caregiver contribution in the country at $19.8 billion. It is one of only 9 states with a contribution of over $6 billion. California’s 1.45 million caregivers provide 1.6 billion hours of unpaid care per year. This is an 18 percent higher number than reported in 2010.

Alzheimer’s is the only top 10 cause of death that has no effective treatment or means of prevention. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., and the fifth leading cause of death for people age 65 and older.

Despite these growing numbers, Alzheimer’s only receives $480 million in research funding from the Federal government – which other major diseases get much more. For example, cancer gets more than $6 billion in Federal funding; heart disease more than $4 billion and HIV more than $3 billion.

Above all, the personal toll this disease takes is most devastating. Alzheimer’s disease is a heartbreaking experience for both the individual with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. Most people survive an average of four to eight years after a diagnosis, but many can live as long as 20 years with the disease. This prolonged duration often places increasingly intensive care demands on family members and friends who provide care. Most caregivers are family members who take on a tremendous financial, physical and emotional burden to help care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia, 80 percent of all care provided in the home is delivered by unpaid family caregivers.

Read the full report at

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