Skip to content

    Alzheimer's Disease Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Alzheimer's Cases May Triple by 2050

    By Sue Hughes
    Medscape Medical News

    Feb. 7, 2013 -- The number of people with Alzheimer's may triple by 2050, from 4.7 million in 2010 to 13.8 million by 2050, a new study shows.

    "These are staggering numbers," says researcher Jennifer Weuve, MPH, ScD, of the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging in Chicago. "The ramifications for society and family caregivers in particular are huge."

    Still, "this is not really a surprise," she says. "It's a bit like climate change. We've known about it for years but we haven't done much to stop it. Our data drum home the message that research into the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer's must be a priority, as well as developing better ways of managing patients with the condition and helping caregivers."

    A Complicated Problem

    Weuve says that trying to estimate the number of Alzheimer's cases in the country is complicated. Medical and public health agencies are not good at documenting these statistics, and Alzheimer's is hugely under-diagnosed.

    "A diagnosis of Alzheimer's requires that you show up in a clinic and a physician actually thinks about dementia. Many patients go to their primary care doctor for something else, and although they may come across as confused, the doctor just puts this down to age and never formally diagnoses Alzheimer's, so about half of Alzheimer's cases go undiagnosed. Because of this, we had to be resourceful when trying to work out how many cases there actually were," she says.

    To get around this problem, Weuve and her colleagues based their estimates on 10,000 adults, aged 65 and older, who were tested for Alzheimer's as part of the Chicago Health and Aging Project.

    They then worked out the prevalence, or number of cases, of Alzheimer's disease in the U.S. in 2010 according to age, sex, educational level, and race by using U.S. census data.

    Out of the 4.7 million people with Alzheimer's in 2010, the researchers estimate that just over a half-million were between 65 and 74 years, 2.3 million were between 75 and 84 years, and 1.8 million were 85 years or older.

    This gave an estimate of 13.8 million people with Alzheimer's in 2050, of whom 7 million would be aged 85 or older.

    The research is published online in Neurology.

    Today on WebMD

    Remember your finger
    When it’s more than just forgetfulness.
    senior man with serious expression
    Which kinds are treatable?
     
    senior man
    Common symptoms to look for.
    mri scan of human brain
    Can drinking red wine reverse the disease?
     
    Checklist
    ARTICLE
    eating blueberries
    ARTICLE
     
    clock
    Article
    Colored mri of brain
    ARTICLE
     
    Human brain graphic
    ARTICLE
    mature woman
    ARTICLE
     
    Woman comforting ailing mother
    ARTICLE
    Senior woman with serious expression
    ARTICLE