We are entering an unprecedented time in American history. The Baby Boomers are aging and, thanks to the advances made in science and medicine, are expected to live longer than the generations before them. While education and preventative care mean that the aging population has a better chance of living healthier, fuller and more productive lives, it also means that we can expect to see an increase in the number of individuals developing dementia.
“Getting older is the single biggest risk factor of developing dementias like Alzheimer’s disease,” says Sue Sunderland, Executive Director of The Bridges at Warwick, a supportive personal care community in Jamison, PA. “According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we should expect a 178 percent increase in dementia cases between now and 2060, making dementia the greatest health issue facing seniors.”
Currently, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s disease every 65 seconds. Right now, it’s the sixth-leading cause of death of senior Americans – and one in three seniors will die with some form of dementia.
“As the prevalence of this disease increases, we can expect more and more focus to be put on preventative treatment, as well as researching an eventual cure,” says Sue. “In order to improve the overall quality of life for everyone involved, more research and development will need to be undertaken to determine the root cause of dementia and, hopefully, find ways to further slow or reverse the course of these life-changing diseases.”
The Prevalence of Dementia in the United States
The Alzheimer’s Association® puts out a yearly report of Alzheimer’s facts and figures. The 2018 report paints a detailed picture of the state of Alzheimer’s (and other dementias) in the United States today. Here are some of their findings:
- Approximately 5.7 million Americans were living with Alzheimer’s dementia in 2018, which includes 5.5 million people age 65 and older and approximately 200,000 individuals under the age 65
- 10 percent of people age 65 and older have Alzheimer’s, and of the people who have this form of dementia, 81 percent of them are age 75 or older
- Almost two-thirds of Alzheimer’s patients are women
- Older African-Americans are about twice as likely to have Alzheimer’s or other dementias as older whites
- Hispanics are about one and one-half times as likely to have Alzheimer’s or other dementias as older whites
- In 2018, about 2.1 million people who have Alzheimer’s dementia are age 85 or older, accounting for 37 percent of all people with Alzheimer’s dementia
Trends in the Prevalence and Incidence of Alzheimer’s Dementia
While visibility of Alzheimer’s and other dementias has grown over the years, a number of studies indicate that the age-specific risk of dementias like Alzheimer’s disease may have declined in the past 25 years in higher-income Western countries like the United States. This may be because education levels and better control of cardiovascular health has increased during this time frame.
“These findings are cheering and provide hope that preventative treatment like identifying and reducing risk factors may be effective in helping reduce the number of dementia cases,” says Sue. However, this doesn’t change the fact that the incidence of dementia is expected to increase in the future simply because more and more people will live longer. As life expectancy in low- and middle-income countries increases, we can also expect to see rising rates of dementias in their populations. Studies indicate that approximately 68 percent of the global projected increase in dementia will take place in these developing countries.
The Future of Dementia Prevalence in the United States
Currently, the American population is experiencing a boom, both literally and figuratively. The majority of the Baby Boomer generation is now age 65 or older, which is when the risk for dementias such as Alzheimer’s becomes more elevated. Here are the findings and predictions stated in the 2018 Alzheimer’s Association® report:
- By 2030, seniors age 65 and older will make up over 20 percent of the total American population
- By 2030, we will see an estimated 615,000 new cases of Alzheimer’s, a 35 percent increase from today
- By 2025, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s dementia is projected to reach 7.1 million (a 29 percent increase from today)
- By 2050, the number of seniors with dementia may grow from 5.5 million to a projected 13.8 million
- When the first of the Baby Boomers turn 85 in 2031, it’s projected that more than 3 million people age 85 and older will have Alzheimer’s
- By 2050, 7 million people age 85 and older are projected to have Alzheimer’s
Looking to the Future
While these numbers may seem sobering, Sue cautions readers to avoid drawing overly negative conclusions. “It makes complete sense that the number of dementia cases will increase as the population ages,” she says. “Fortunately, advances are being made every day in the medical community, and we’re learning more and more about the causes of dementias like Alzheimer’s disease. We’re also seeing that preventative measures such as staying physically active, eating a healthy diet and a variety of other factors can help seniors age well and reduce the risk of cognitive decline. While we do not yet have a cure for dementia, research is promising and there has been an increased focus and support from society and our government to find a cure by 2020. As medical technology improves and early diagnosis becomes more and more common, we have hope for the future.
“At The Bridges at Warwick, we are firmly committed to celebrating the lives of seniors with dementias such as Alzheimer's disease, and finding ways to build bridges across the gaps left by memory loss. Our mission is to provide enriching, joyful and fulfilling lives for our residents and their families, allowing them to create meaningful moments and enjoy a high quality of life each and every day.”
For more information about dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease or to learn more about the innovative treatments available at The Bridges at Warwick, contact us at 215.269.7745.
Activity. Friendship. Support. Convenience. Value.
You’ll find it all at The Bridges at Warwick, located in beautiful Bucks County, where every day is a celebration of seniors. Our philosophy of “Celebrating Life” means that our residents enjoy a sense of purpose and contentment along with fun, personalized care and a focus on total well-being.
Our Personalized Supportive Care provides just the right amount of assistance to help you remain independent, along with life-enriching programs, services and amenities. Our exclusive Vista Transitional Living Program offers specialized programming our supportive care residents who have memory challenges but do not yet require a secure residence. For those whose memory loss is more advanced, we offer The Vista, our secure, comprehensive memory care residence.
In keeping with our founder Robert Basile’s personal philosophy, developed during his efforts to find quality senior living for his beloved father, senior adults remain our passion. We fill our residents’ lives with countless opportunities to engage with both new and treasured friends; events and programs to enjoy with family members and loved ones; as well as innovative and creative activities that foster engagement. Our dedication to total wellness – for mind, body and spirit – is woven into our culture every day.
Contact us today or call 215.269.7745 for more information or to arrange a personal tour.