Alzheimer's disease is now the sixth leading cause of death in the US


Alzheimer's disease is now the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. and the fifth leading cause of death for people 65 and older and for women of all ages, according to the latest Facts and Figures 2020 report from the American Alzheimer's Association. The report provides an in-depth look at the latest statistics and information on the prevalence, incidence, mortality, costs of care and impact of the disease on caregivers across the country.

The report estimates that 5.8 million Americans over the age of 65 will have Alzheimer's this year. In addition, more family members and friends of people with Alzheimer's are taking on the role of caregivers. Specifically, 16 million Americans are taking on this role. In the state of Texas alone, 1,449,000 caregivers provided a total of 1,650,000,000 hours of unpaid care, valued at a total of $21,628,000,000.

The death rate from Alzheimer's continues to rise and has increased an alarming 146 per cent since 2000, while deaths from other major diseases have remained stable or decreased. The report notes that 1 in 3 elderly people die as a result of Alzheimer's or other dementias and points out that this disease kills more than several types of cancer.

In terms of the economic cost of caring for people with Alzheimer's, the Facts and Figures 2020 report notes that, for the fourth year in a row, it is exceeding a quarter of a trillion dollars and the volume of this item is expected to increase by 23.3% over the next 5 years. 

The medical profession is not prepared to deal with the growth of cases

In addition, the report examines the readiness of primary care physicians and the medical profession to meet the growing demands for dementia care in America. Exactly half of primary care physicians believe that the profession is unprepared to care for the growing number of people with Alzheimer's or other dementias.

Eighty-two percent of primary care physicians say they are on the front lines of dementia care. However, almost 2 in 5 (39%) say they "never" or only "sometimes" feel comfortable making a diagnosis of Alzheimer's or other dementias. Twenty-two percent of physicians have no residency experience in dementia diagnosis and care.

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