Thursday, March 27, 2008

10 Million Baby Boomers At Risk of Developing Alzheimer's Disease

MEDSCAPE report by Susan Jeffrey
A new report released by the Alzheimer's Association includes new estimates that show the lifetime risk for Alzheimer's disease (AD) is 17% in women and 9% in men who live to age 55 years. The figures mean that 10 million of the 78 million baby boomers alive today can expect to develop AD in their lifetime; this number increases to 14 million if other dementias are included.

The new numbers outlining remaining lifetime risk at age 55 years were provided to the Alzheimer's Association by authors of the Framingham Heart Study, and the data appear in the association's report, 2008 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures, released this week.

Alzheimer's Association president and CEO Harry Johns said in a statement that the information in this report "makes it clear that the crisis cannot be ignored, not when 10 million baby boomers are at risk of developing this fatal disease. Unchecked, this disease will impose staggering consequences on families, the economy, and the nation's health and long-term care infrastructure."

The report includes information ranging from prevalence, to mortality, to costs for direct care, to indirect costs to caregivers. The document also includes a special report on remaining lifetime risk, based on data from the Framingham Heart Study, authored by Alexa Beiser, PhD, Sudha Seshadri, MD, Rhoda Au, PhD, and Philip A. Wolf, MD, from Boston University Schools of Medicine and Public Health, in Massachusetts.

Other data included in the report:

Currently, 5.2 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer's disease. About 1 in 8 people older than 65 years (approximately 13%) have the disease.
Women are more likely to develop AD than men, although this is principally because they live longer on average than men.
As many as a half-million new cases will develop every year by 2010; by 2050, that number is expected to grow to 1 million.
Alzheimer's disease is among the top 10 leading causes of death for people of all ages, and number 5 for those 60 years and older. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, although mortality rates for heart disease, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and stroke declined between 2000 and 2005, rates for AD increased by almost 45%, the report notes. This decline in death rates in other causes of death might be expected to further increase rates of dementia as people live longer, the report points out.
Direct costs to Medicare and Medicaid for the care of people with AD and other dementias and indirect costs to businesses with employees who are caregivers for someone with AD amount to more than $148 billion annually. In 2000, total Medicare costs per beneficiary for beneficiaries with AD 65 years and older were on average 3 times higher than for other beneficiaries.
In 2007, nearly 10 million Americans 18 years and older provided 8.4 billion hours of unpaid care to people with AD (valued at $89 billion), 4 times what Medicare pays for nursing-home care for AD and other dementias.
About 250,000 children between the ages of 8 and 18 years are also providing care for loved ones with AD, and about 1 million caregivers have to provide that care from a distance of more than 2 hours away.

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