Special Report

This Is the State Where Alzheimer's Is Soaring

Instances of Alzheimer’s disease are expected to rise rapidly with the aging of the world’s population. A new study published in the medical journal The Lancet forecasts that dementia will affect 153 million people globally by 2050. In this country, in one state alone, cases are projected to rise by 33.3% between now and 2025. That state is Arizona.

Azheimer’s disease is named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer, who found changes in the brain tissue of a woman who died in 1906. She had experienced memory loss and confusion. Clearly the disease he “discovered” had been present in the human population for thousands of years, but, with a name, scientists began to explore its symptoms more carefully, along with its causes.

The World Health Organization reports that Alzheimer’s represents about two-thirds of dementia cases worldwide, which currently totals approximately 55 million people. The WHO also reports that the figure increases by 10 million people a year. It defines the disease as “deterioration in cognitive function beyond what might be expected from the usual consequences of biological aging.” There are medications that may slow the disease’s progression, but there is no cure or truly effective treatment. (These are the states where Alzheimer’s causes the most deaths.)

To determine the states where Alzheimer’s disease is increasing the most, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data from the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2021 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report. States were ranked by the projected increase in the number of Americans 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease between 2020 and 2025. (Data on average annual retirement per state comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey.)

Click here to see the states where Alzheimer’s is soaring

Age is the greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. As a larger share of the U.S. population turns 65 and older, the number of Alzheimer’s cases is projected to increase. Many of the states with the largest projected increases are also states with higher percentages of older Americans, though other risk factors like obesity, diabetes, and the quality of each state’s health care system also play a part.

Those with Alzheimer’s disease need a great deal of care. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that, in 2021, the cost of caring for those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias in the United States was $355 billion. When the unpaid care given by friends and family is factored in, that figure balloons to over $610 billion. It is important for those who want to retire in the near future to save enough money to be able to afford long-term care in the event of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. (You may be surprised at what it really costs to retire in America.)

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