States Where Alzheimer’s Is Soaring

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5. Utah
> Increase in Alzheimer’s, 2017-2025: 40.0%
> Pct. of 65+ pop. with Alzheimer’s: 9.7% (3rd lowest)
> Population 65+: 10.3% (2nd lowest)
> Pct. of 65+ pop. in good health: 79.5% (9th highest)
> Avg. retirement income: $26,526 (14th highest)

Utah has 30,000 people living with Alzheimer’s disease, based on Alzheimer’s Association data. Largely because the state’s population of 65 and over residents is relatively small and projected to grow at among the fastest rates, Alzheimer’s cases in the state are expected to soar by 40%, a rate of increase trailing just four other states. Elderly Utah residents comprise just 10.3% of the state’s population, second lowest share after only Alaska. And the number of elderly people living in Utah will grow by approximately 33%, third fastest compared with other states.

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4. Vermont
> Increase in Alzheimer’s, 2017-2025: 41.7%
> Pct. of 65+ pop. with Alzheimer’s: 10.9% (14th lowest)
> Population 65+: 17.6% (4th highest)
> Pct. of 65+ pop. in good health: 78.7% (11th highest)
> Avg. retirement income: $21,537 (15th lowest)

Many of the states where the number of Alzheimer’s disease cases are expected to increase the most have relatively small populations of 65 and over residents. In Vermont, however, the elderly population comprises 17.6% of the population, the fourth largest share of any state. The projected sharp increase in Alzheimer’s in Vermont may be partially due to the large share of individuals 75 and over, who in Vermont comprise 7.2% of residents, sixth highest such share. The risk of Alzheimer’s goes up significantly with age also among the elderly.

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3. Nevada
> Increase in Alzheimer’s, 2017-2025: 48.8%
> Pct. of 65+ pop. with Alzheimer’s: 10.2% (6th lowest)
> Population 65+: 14.6% (15th lowest)
> Pct. of 65+ pop. in good health: 78.2% (15th highest)
> Avg. retirement income: $28,364 (7th highest)

The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services in January proposed nine recommendations to address Alzheimer’s disease in its state. Among the recommendations was fostering dementia-friendly communities by implementing information and referral systems for those living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, as well as for their caregivers and their families, to enable them to connect with local case managers and support services.

As is almost always the case at the top end of this list, the projected increase in Nevada’s elderly population of 32.3% far outpaces the projected growth nationwide and largely explains the anticipated spike in Alzheimer’s cases. Medicaid costs for those with the disease are expected to surge by 70.6% by 2025, the second largest increase after only Alaska.

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2. Arizona
> Increase in Alzheimer’s, 2017-2025: 53.8%
> Pct. of 65+ pop. with Alzheimer’s: 11.6% (20th highest)
> Population 65+: 16.4% (10th highest)
> Pct. of 65+ pop. in good health: 76.4% (25th lowest)
> Avg. retirement income: $24,985 (19th highest)

Alzheimer’s disease was the eighth leading cause of death in Arizona, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. The disease claimed 2,485 lives in Arizona in 2014, and when adjusted to the population the death rate from the disease amounts to 36.9 deaths per 100,000 people — the 11th highest Alzheimer’s mortality rate of all states. Arizona’s elderly population, which already comprises one of the largest shares of the population of all states, is projected to grow by approximately 29.1% by 2025, the 10th fastest pace compared to other states.

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1. Alaska
> Increase in Alzheimer’s, 2017-2025: 54.9%
> Pct. of 65+ pop. with Alzheimer’s: 10.0% (5th lowest)
> Population 65+: 9.6% (the lowest)
> Pct. of 65+ pop. in good health: 74.8% (19th lowest)
> Avg. retirement income: $32,226 (the highest)

By 2025, Alaska’s elderly population will grow by approximately 35.6% from 70,900 to 110,000 people 65 and over, the fastest projected growth rate of all states. The growth largely accounts for the state’s nation-leading anticipated growth in Alzheimer’s cases.

Alaska has the lowest mortality rate from Alzheimer’s disease of any state, with 9.2 deaths per 100,000 people. The U.S. mortality rate from Alzheimer’s disease was more than triple that of Alaska’s, at 29 deaths per 100,000 people in 2014. The sharp rise in the number of Alzheimer’s cases will also drive up medical costs in Alaska. While retired state residents are relatively well off — retirees’ average annual income of $32,226 is the highest in the nation — Medicaid costs for treating Alzheimer’s disease in Alaska is forecast to climb 82.5% from 2017 to 2025, the biggest increase of any state.