Published on: March 21, 2013
by Paul Briand for Examiner:
The new report about Alzheimer’s in America was distressing enough: One in three senior citizens die from Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia.
But the data from the Alzheimer’s Association’s “2013 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures” contains information about Baby Boomers as their significant numbers progress into the age of vulnerability for the disease: 65 and older.
Right now, the leading age of Baby Boomers is turning 65; the first Boomers started turning 65 in 2011. By the year 2025, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, the number of people – many of them Boomers – with the disease is estimated to reach 7.1 million.
That’s a 40 percent increase from from the 5 million aged 65 and older who are currently afflicted with Alzheimer’s. Just the sheer number of Baby Boomers will increase the afflicted, raising the spectre that the Baby Boomer Generation could become the Alzheimer’s Generation.
“Unfortunately today there are no Alzheimer’s survivors. If you have Alzheimer’s disease, you either die from it or die with it. Now we know that 1 in every 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia. Urgent, meaningful action is necessary, particularly as more and more people age into greater risk for developing a disease that has no cure and no way to slow or stop its progression,” said Harry Johns, president and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association.
The report notes: “The number of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias will grow each year as the number and proportion of the U.S. population age 65 and older continue to increase. The number will escalate rapidly in coming years as the baby boom generation ages.”
Boomers will become, as the report describes, “the oldest old.”
“Longer life expectancies and aging baby boomers will also increase the number and percentage of Americans who will be among the oldest-old,” said the report.
“Between 2010 and 2050, the oldest-old are expected to increase from 14 percent of all people age 65 and older in the United States to 20 percent of all people age 65 and older. This will result in an additional 13 million oldest-old people — individuals at the highest risk for developing Alzheimer’s.”
It added: “When the first wave of baby boomers reaches age 85 (in 2031), it is projected that more than 3 million people age 85 and older are likely to have Alzheimer’s.”
This all represents a challenge for society — for medicine and research to find a way to curb or even prevent the disease and for caregivers, who will become increasingly strained to care for a growing number of Alzheimer’s patients.
According to the report, in 2010, there were 4,278 physicians practicing geriatric medicine in the United States. It estimates 36,000 geriatricians will be needed to adequately meet the needs of older adults in the United States by 2030.
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