Baby Boomers at Risk for Alzheimer's

March 25, 2008

A report estimates that at least 5.2 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's, including 200,000 to 250,000 people under the age of 65. By 2010, projections say there will be 500,000 new cases of the disease each year.

According to a recent Washington Post article, more than 10 million baby boomers are expected to develop Alzheimer's disease - the progressive brain disease that causes severe memory loss and confusion - at some point in their lifetime. This accounts for approximately 18% of the current adult population, according to USA Today.

The report estimates that at least 5.2 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's, including 200,000 to 250,000 people under the age of 65. By 2010, projections say there will be 500,000 new cases of the disease each year, and nearly one million new cases annually by 2050, translating to 1 out of every 8 baby boomers. The report also stated that the disease is now the seventh deadliest in the nation and that women are at greater risk than men.

The age of highest risk for Alzheimer's starts at 65, says Stephen McConnell, the association's vice president for advocacy and public policy. "Some of these people are already developing the disease, and those numbers are just going to increase dramatically over the next several decades."

Obviously the impact on baby boomers, their families, and the US healthcare system will be greatly impacted.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, 70% of people with Alzheimer's and other dementias live at homeNationwide, there are more than 10 million caregivers providing care to their loved ones afflicted with the disease, and more than 250,000 of them are between age 8 and 18 years. As for the financial implications, Medicare currently spends more than three times as much money on people with Alzheimer's and other dementias than it does for the average Medicare recipient. In 2005, Medicare spent $91 billion on people with Alzheimer's and other dementias. By 2010, that number is expected to climb to $160 billion, and by 2015, to $189 billion annually, according to the report.

The best thing that baby boomers and their families can do is to educate themselves on the disease, and watch for warning signs. Although there are no proven methods of true prevention, the Mayo Clinic suggests the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to aid in combatting its progression and vitamins, in addition to other supplementary measures. Delaying the advancement of the disease is perhaps the best stepping in fighting it altogether.