The number of people with Alzheimers disease is expected to triple in the next 40 years, according to a new study.
“This increase is due to an aging baby boom generation,” Jennifer Weuve, MPH, ScD, a coauthor of the study and an assistant professor of medicine at Rush Institute for Healthy Aging at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, said in a news release. “It will place a huge burden on society, disabling more people who develop the disease, challenging their caregivers and straining medical and social safety nets.
“Our study draws attention to an urgent need for more research, treatments and preventive strategies to reduce this epidemic.”
Researchers analyzed information from 10,802 African-American and Caucasian people living in Chicago, ages 65 and older, between 1993 and 2011. Participants were interviewed and assessed for dementia every three years. Age, race and level of education were factored into the research.
The data were combined with U.S. death rates, education and current and future population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.
The researchers determined that the total number of people with Alzheimers dementia in 2050 is projected to be 13.8 million, up from 4.7 million in 2010. About 7 million of those with the disease would be 85 or older in 2050.
“Our detailed projections use the most up-to-date data, but they are similar to projections made years and decades ago,” Weuve said. “All of these projections anticipate a future with a dramatic increase in the number of people with Alzheimers and should compel us to prepare for it.”
The study is scheduled for publication in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. The study abstract is available at www.neurology.org/content/early/2013/02/06/WNL.0b013e31828726f5.abstract.