It appears one of the most devastating diseases to hit older people will continue to rise in future years. Researchers from the Rush Institute on Healthy Aging say it is crucial to have an accurate estimate of Alzheimer's for the use of public health planning. Current estimates vary depending on the type of study and the source. This study used the United States Census as the scaffold to build upon.
Researchers used a community of three adjacent neighborhoods in Chicago and applied that to the United States population. It was a biracial group and all residents were over 65 years. The study authors say, in 2000, there were 4.5 million people in the United States with AD. The majority, 53 percent, was between ages 75 and 84 years. By 2050, researchers believe the number will increase three-fold to 13.2 million. They say the number of people who are 85 years or older will more than quadruple to 8 million.
Alzheimer's is a devastating disease that robs the brain of memory and sometimes language skills, decision-making ability and cognitive function. It places a great financial burden on the health care system and that's why the authors of this study say it is important to have an accurate picture of what lies ahead. They write, "Estimates of its occurrence and projections of future occurrence are essential for public health planning."