States Where Alzheimer’s Is Soaring

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Alzheimer’s — the sixth leading cause of death in the United States — is a degenerative and progressive neurological disease with no known cure.

The disease causes changes in the brain that, over time, impair memory and diminish judgment and reasoning ability. These symptoms typically worsen to the point where those afflicted may no longer recognize family members and lose the ability to carry out basic functions like walking or swallowing.

While the cause of Alzheimer’s is unknown, risk factors include family history and genetic predisposition. The greatest risk factor, however, is age, as the vast majority of people with the disease are 65 or older. Today, 5.8 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s dementia — and as the baby boom generation grows older, that number is forecast to increase considerably in the coming years.

Every state is projected to report an uptick of at least 12% in the number of people with the disease. 24/7 Tempo reviewed “2019 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures,” a report released by the Alzheimer’s Association, a nonprofit that focuses on care and research of the disease, to identify the estimated increases in every state, from lowest to higher.

The states ranking highest on this list tend to be those that are aging fastest and are not necessarily the states where Alzheimer’s causes the most deaths.

Researchers believe regular physical activity, frequent social and cognitive engagement, and a healthy diet — specifically regular consumption of this one common vegetable — can help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.

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To determine the states where Alzheimer’s is soaring, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the projected increase in the number of Americans 65 and older with Alzheimer’s between 2019-2025 in every state from the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2019 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 2017 American Community Survey (ACS). The average retirement income by state comes from the ACS. The share of 65 and over residents in good health came from the CDC’s Healthy Aging data set, and is for 2017.