One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia in the United States, according to new research from the Alzheimer’s Association released this week.
The new report shows that while deaths from other major diseases—such as heart disease, HIV/AIDS and stroke—continue to experience significant declines, Alzheimer’s deaths continue to rise , increasing 68 percent from 2000-10.
“Unfortunately, today there are no Alzheimer’s survivors. If you have Alzheimer’s disease, you either die from it or die with it,” Harry Johns, president and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association said in a statement. “Urgent, meaningful action is necessary, particularly as more and more people age into greater risk for developing a disease that today has no cure and no way to slow or stop its progression.”
Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States and is the only leading cause of death without a way to prevent, cure or even slow its progression. Already, more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. Those numbers will jump to 13.8 million by 2050, Tuesday’s report predicts.
A February study by Rush University Medical Center researchers estimated the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease will triple in the next 40 years, as baby boomers continue to age.
Based on 2010 data, Alzheimer’s was reported as the underlying cause of death for 83,494 individuals — individuals who died from Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s Association 2013 Facts and Figures reveals that in 2013 an estimated 450,000 people in the United States will die with Alzheimer’s.
Among 70-year-olds with Alzheimer’s disease, 61 percent are expected to die within a decade. Among 70-year-olds without Alzheimer’s, only 30 percent will die within a decade, the report predicts.
The Alzheimer’s Association, which advocates for more support and research for those affected by the disease, also points out the dramatic effects of the disease, both emotionally and financially.
In 2012, there were more than 15 million caregivers who provided more than 17 billion hours of unpaid care valued at $216 billion. Due to the physical and emotional toll of caregiving, Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers had $9.1 billion in additional health care costs of their own in 2012.
Payments for health and long-term care services for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias will total $203 billion in 2013, the lion’s share of which will be borne by Medicare and Medicaid with combined costs of $142 billion. The association also estimates that by 2050, total costs will increase 500 percent to $1.2 trillion.
“Alzheimer’s disease steals everything—steadily, relentlessly, inevitably. With baby boomers reaching the age of elevated risk, we do not have time to do what we have always done,” said Robert Egge, vice president of public policy for the Alzheimer’s Association. “The National Institutes of Health needs to reset its priorities and focus its resources on the crisis at our doorstep, and Congress must fully fund implementation of the National Alzheimer’s Plan to solve the crisis.”