Alzheimer’s, Dementia Will Hit Minority Groups Hardest

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A new study by the Alzheimer’s Association projects that the number of Americans who will suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) will more than double from an estimated 5 million in 2014 to 13.9 million in 2060. Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death among the U.S. population and the fifth-leading cause among Americans 65 and older.

The researchers used Medicare fee-for-service claims to estimate the number of people with a clinical diagnosis of ADRD in 2014. While age is the primary risk factor for ADRD, race and ethnicity also play a significant role according to the study. As the United States becomes a majority-minority nation by 2050, increases in the number of non-Hispanic whites with ADRD will begin to plateau around 2030 while the number in minority populations will continue to grow, particularly among Hispanics.

In 2014, an estimated 430,000 U.S. Hispanics suffered from ADRD; by 2060 that number rises by nearly 8 times to an estimated 3.2 million. Among African Americans, the number rises from about 573,000 in 2014 to 2.17 million in 2060, up by a factor of nearly 4.

Non-Hispanic whites suffering from ADRD numbered an estimated 3.72 million in 2014 and that total will rise to an estimated 7.06 million by 2060, up by less a factor of about 1.9.

The researchers conclude:

These estimates can be used for public health planning related to providing culturally competent care for the ADRD population and supporting caregivers from diverse backgrounds. Such estimates may provide a basis for planning and interventions, especially for regions that will face a disproportionately high increase of dementia cases due to their current demographic composition.

The impact of ADRD on minority populations, in particular, indicates that “culturally competent care for these groups will be of paramount importance.”

The Alzheimer’s Association study is available at the organization’s website.