Healthcare Economy

This Is the State Where Alzheimer's Is Surging the Most

Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disorder that causes memory loss and impairs speech, behavior and cognitive functions. The most common risk factor for the disease is age. The vast majority of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease are at least 65 years old.

The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that, as of 2020, 5.8 million Americans 65 and older are living with the disease. As more and more of the baby boomer generation reaches that age, the number of Americans with the disease will increase to a projected 7.1 million people by 2025, an increase of nearly 22%. Yet this growth will not be uniform everywhere. In some states, the number of older people with Alzheimer’s disease is projected to grow by less than 10%, while in others it is projected to grow by more than 30%.

To determine the state where Alzheimer’s is surging the most, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the projected increase in the number of Americans 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease between 2020 and 2025 in every state from the Alzheimer’s Association’s Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report. The share of the population that is 65 years or older in each state came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey (ACS). The average retirement income for the state also comes from the ACS. The percentage of Americans 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease was calculated using Alzheimer’s Association data and population data from the ACS.

No currently approved medical options prevent or cure Alzheimer’s disease or even slow its progression. In addition to the health challenges faced by those with the disease, Alzheimer’s care can be incredibly costly. The Alzheimer’s Association projects there will be more than $51.2 billion worth of Medicaid payments made for Americans 65 and over with Alzheimer’s disease in 2020. Older Americans should consider the cost of long-term care when determining when they are going to retire. In nearly every state, it costs over $1 million to retire.

The projected increase in Alzheimer’s disease for the most troubled state is based on the projected population growth of residents aged 65 and older. Some Americans in this age bracket opt to relocate, moving from colder areas to warmer ones, typically in the southern and western parts of the nation. Many cities in these parts of the country have experienced significant population growth over the past decade, due largely to retirees moving in.

In Arizona, the state where the disease will grow the fastest, the projected increase in adults 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease between 2020 and 2025 is 33.3%. The percentage of the 65 and older population with Alzheimer’s disease now 12.9%, the 11th highest among all states. The percentage of the population that is over 65 now is 16.7%, tied for 10th highest among all states.

In Arizona, the number of older adults with the condition is expected to increase by a third in the next five years, more than in any other state. This may be due in part to the fact that Arizona has one of the highest shares of people older than 65. In 2018, Alzheimer’s disease was the fifth-leading cause of death in Arizona among state residents of all ages.