The Facts on Alzheimer’s Disease

  • Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible degeneration of the brain that causes disruptions in memory, cognition, personality, and other functions that eventually leads to death from complete brain failure.


  • Over 5 million (5.4 million) Americans age 65 and older are thought to have Alzheimer’s disease. By 2050, the number of Americans with this disease could increase to over 15 million.
  • The national cost of Alzheimer’s disease (in people over 65 years old) was $183 billion in 2011, and by 2050 it will be $1.1 trillion.
  • One person in the United States is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease approximately every 69 seconds.
  • It is estimated that almost 500,000 new cases of Alzheimer’s disease will be diagnosed this year.
  • According to data from the CDC, in 2010, more than 82,000 deaths were recorded as being caused by Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States.
  • Worldwide, nearly 36 million people are believed to be living with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. That number is projected to increase to 65.7 million by 2030 and 115.4 million by 2050.
  • Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia.
  • By 2048, one in forty-five people may be living with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Alzheimer’s disease usually begins after age 60 and risk increases with age. Younger people in their 30s, 40s and 50s may get Alzheimer’s disease, but it is rare.
  • Approximately 5 percent of all cases of Alzheimer’s disease are believed to be familial (hereditary). In familial cases, often called early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, symptoms typically appear within the age range of 30 – 60 years.
  • It is estimated that one in eight Americans aged 65 years and older, and more than one in three Americans 85 years and older have Alzheimer’s disease.
  • The lifetime risk of Alzheimer’s disease among those who reached the age of 65 is approximately 1 in 5 for women and 1 in 10 among men.
  • People with poor vision that did not visit an ophthalmologist for treatments had a 9.5 fold increased risk of dementia when followed over an 8.5 year period.
  • Death from Alzheimer’s disease is often underreported or misdiagnosed.
  • Alzheimer’s disease represents around 70% of all cases of dementia. Making it the most common cause of dementia.
  • Approximately 5.1 million Americans are age 85 years or older, and this age group is one of the fastest growing segments of the population. It is also the group with the highest risk of Alzheimer’s disease. It is estimated that at least 19 million people will be age 85 and older by the year 2050.
  • Common symptoms include: disturbances in memory, attention, and orientation, changes in personality, language difficulties, and impairments in gait and movement.
  • On average, patients with Alzheimer’s disease live for 8 to 10 years after diagnosis, but this fatal disease can last as long as 20 years, or as little as 3 to 4 years if the patient is over 80 years old when diagnosed.
  • Currently, the only way to definitively diagnose Alzheimer’s disease is to physically examine the brain through autopsy.
  • Approximately 70% of Alzheimer’s disease patients receive care at home.
  • In terms of health care expenses and lost wages of both patients and their caregivers, the cost of Alzheimer’s disease nationwide is estimated at $100 billion per year.
  • Nearly half of all nursing home residents have Alzheimer’s disease or a related disorder.
  • The average hourly service cost for home health aides is $21 per hour.
  • The average annual cost for an assisted living facility is $37,572.
  • For a person with Alzheimer’s disease, the annual cost of a room in an Alzheimer’s special care unit is estimated in the range of $214 and $239 per day or $77,998 and $87,362 per year, for a semi-private or private room, respectively.
  • For a person with Alzheimer’s disease, the annual cost of home care is estimated at $76,000, including medical expenses and indirect costs such as a caregiver’s time and lost wages.
  • The care of an Alzheimer’s patient, viewed as custodial care, is not covered by Medicare and most health insurance plans.
  • In the absence of disease, the human brain often can function well into the 10th decade of life.
  • 58% of people with dementia worldwide live in low or middle income countries.
  • One third of those whose lives have been touched by Alzheimer’s disease provide support to their loved ones.
  • Of those providing financial support to someone with Alzheimer’s, the average amount is $200 per month. Those providing caregiving support give the average amount of 16 hours a month.
  • Among those who do not personally have Alzheimer’s disease, one third worry about getting Alzheimer’s. Those who have a parent or parent in law with the disease are even more concerned.
  • Roughly half of all caregivers are between the ages of 18 and 49, with the average age of the typical caregiver being 48.
  • Nearly 2 in 10 Americans believe they know someone with Alzheimer’s disease who has not sought diagnosis/treatment.

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