The number of Americans with dementia will increase dramatically in the next 40 years—even higher than previous projections—unless preventative measures are developed, new research predicts.
If trends stay current with recent findings, by 2050 the total number of people with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) will reach an estimated 13.8 million, according to a study by the American Academy of Neurology.
The baby boomer generation is anticipated to impact these findings more so than future generations, as their aging and requiring of long-term care is a present concern.
U.S. Census data in 2010 showed the total population of Americans aged 65 years or older was 40.3 million people. Updating its projections, the study’s researchers expect this population to increase to 88.5 million in 2050.
“The aging of the ‘baby boom’ generation will dramatically increase the number of persons in the United states who have Alzheimer disease and the huge burden it places on people with the disease, their caregivers, and society,” writes the study’s lead author Dr. Liesi E. Herbert, ScD.
With the baby boomer generation only getting older, the number of people with AD looks to nearly triple between 2010 and 2050.
In 2010, researchers estimated there were 4.7 million individuals aged 65 or older with AD. Of these individuals, the highest numbers fell between seniors ages 75-84, accounting for 2.3 million cases.
Because the older population is smaller, researchers believe the middle age group (75-84) will contribute the largest number of AD cases until 2050.
Care costs associated with the projected increase in dementia cases could amount to $1 trillion a year, as indicated by the Los Angeles Times.
To reduce the impact boomers will inflict upon the nation’s health care system, researches suggest an intervention program that identifies and delays on-set dementia would substantially decrease the number of projected cases.
“AD dementia will involve a larger proportion of the total population as the baby boomer bulge ages, and these projections emphasize the need to find either prevention or treatment for AD dementia in order to decrease the burden of future disease on individuals, families and the medical care system,” concludes Dr. Herbert.
Written by Jason Oliva