The number of people with Alzheimer’s disease is expected to triple in the next 40 years, according to a new study published in the Neurology journal.
The study projected that by 2050, 13.8 million people will suffer from Alzheimer’s dementia. In 2050, about 7 million of those with the disease would be 85 or older.
Researchers attribute the expected growth in those with Alzheimer's to the aging baby boom generation, who are beginning to reach old age.
With 4.7 million people suffering from Alzheimer's in 2010, the disease is already affecting people nationally and locally.
The Alzheimer's Association of Western Washington reports that 150,000 people in the state currently have Alzheimer's or a related form of dementia.
But many more Washington residents are impacted, as 350,000 friends, neighbors, or family members are providing unpaid care for those suffering from dementia.
Co-author Jennifer Weuve, from the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, said the increase "will place a huge burden on society, disabling more people who develop the disease, challenging their caregivers, and straining medical and social safety nets."
Current estimates show that every 68 seconds someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer's, according to the Alzheimer's Association of Western Washington.
Weuve explained that the new projections aligned with those from previous studies. She called for more research, treatments and preventative strategies to reduce the epidemic.
For the study, researchers analyzed information from 10,802 African-American and Caucasian people living in Chicago between 1993 and 2011 who were age 65 and older.
Every three years, participants were interviewed and assessed for dementia. Age, race and level of education were factored into the research.
The data were combined with US death rates, education and current and future population estimates from the US Census Bureau.
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