elderly man
(© Creatista | Stock Free Images)

By Julie Steenhuysen/Reuters

The number of U.S. residents aged 65 and older living with Alzheimer’s disease is expected to nearly triple to 13.8 million by 2050 as aging baby boomers swell the ranks of those living with the brain-wasting disease, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday.

The new estimates, published in the journal Neurology, confirm prior estimates and make clear the need for new and better treatments for Alzheimer’s, the leading cause of dementia that now affects some 5 million Americans and 38 million people worldwide.

The latest U.S. estimates paint a grim picture as more and more of the nation’s baby boom generation pass the age of 65, putting them at higher risk for Alzheimer’s, an age-related disorder that slowly robs its victims of the ability to think and care for themselves.

“Our study draws attention to an urgent need for more research, treatments and preventive strategies to reduce this epidemic,” said study co-author Jennifer Weuve, an assistant professor of medicine at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

The National Institute on Aging and others say Alzheimer’s represents a looming health epidemic as the population ages. Current drugs treat symptoms, but no treatments can stop the progression of Alzheimer’s despite millions of dollars being spent on research.

The most recent attempts have failed or met with only faint success. Eli Lilly and Co’s solanezumab failed last summer to meet the primary goals of two studies in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s, but showed a slight benefit when the studies were pooled to look at the effect on those with the mildest form of the disease.

Lilly plans to start a new trial in patients with mild Alzheimer’s this year.

For the latest estimates, the researchers used data on thousands of older volunteers in a community study of Alzheimer’s in Chicago, combined with data on U.S. death rates, education and current and future population estimates from the U.S. census.

Rising Victims, No Cure

The researchers estimate that the total number of U.S. residents with Alzheimer’s in 2050 could reach 13.8 million, up from 4.7 million in 2010. That includes about 7 million people who would be age 85 or older in 2050.

“These projections are based on assumptions that we don’t have a cure at this point, and people may be living longer going forward,” said Dallas Anderson of the National Institute on Aging, one of the National Institutes of Health, which funded the study along with the Alzheimer’s Association.

“The baby boom bulge is finally reaching retirement age and moving into the age window of highest risk,” he said.

Anderson said the study is an update of a prior report done a decade ago, and while the numbers are similar, the new assumptions are the most up to date.

“Everybody agrees that whatever the level we’re at now, it’s going to go up by threefold in the coming few decades,” he said.

As the number of cases increases, Anderson said the strain on the U.S. healthcare system will rise, increasing calls for greater capacity in nursing homes and demand for skilled healthcare providers.

It will also increase the strain on families, who often care for afflicted relatives until that burden becomes too great. “It’s a gradual diminishment in function, and by the end it’s absolutely devastating,” he said.

The team at Rush said the dramatic increase in Alzheimer’s should compel U.S. policymakers to prepare for it.

Last year, the Obama Administration funded the National Alzheimer’s Plan, a sweeping effort to find a way to prevent or treat Alzheimer’s by 2025 and improve the care of those already afflicted.

But advocates worry that huge automatic spending cuts known as “the sequester” may put those efforts at risk.

“This report confirms yet again that Alzheimer’s will be the great health crisis of the 21st century. It also highlights the dire threat posed by the looming sequester and the sweeping cuts to NIH, which would mark a death knell for Alzheimer’s research funding,” George Vradenburg of USAgainstAlzheimer’s and member of the Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research, Care, and Services, said in a statement.

Best Magazine Deal. Subscribe now and get 3 magazines for the price of 1. Get Charisma, SpiritLed Woman and Ministry Today, all for $24. YES - I want this deal!

3 Reasons Why you should read Life in the Spirit. 1) Get to know the Holy Spirit. 2) Learn to enter God's presence 3) Hear God's voice clearly! Click Here to draw closer to God!

Did you enjoy this health article? Click here to receive new health articles by email.

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
View/Add Comments
  • Roadblock

    6 Roadblocks That Will Stop Your Spiritual Growth

    God wants you to grow in your faith, but many of us get stuck along the way.

  • Bishop Eddie Long died at 63.

    Bishop Eddie Long Dead at 63

    "Although his transition leaves a void for those of us who loved him dearly, we can celebrate ...

  • Inner Healing Is the Fruit of the Spirit

    Inner Healing Is the Fruit of the Spirit

    I have been puzzled about the subject of inner healing for some time.

  • 2017 is the year that swords will clash.

    Prophetic Word: 2017 Will Bring a Clashing of Heaven and Hell

    "This is a time to cross over and not pull back."

  • The devil will try to silence you in any way he can. Don't give him the satisfaction.

    Satan's 2 Most Potent Lies to Render You Ineffective

    There's something in you so powerful that Satan doesn't want it out. Kyle Winkler reveals ...

  • Cindy Jacobs

    2017: Year of the Breakthrough

    "There will be a significant increase in miracles and signs and wonders."

  • Foot washing

    Shaking the Gates of Hell With a Basin of Water and a Towel

    "When I saw His foot, I knew He had come to take back territory the enemy had stolen from His ...

  • Growing relationship

    2017 Prophetic Word: The Supernatural Key to Growing Your Relationship With God

    It's vital that we understand what comes from God and what comes from the devil.

  • Are you willing to volunteer for God's offensive army?

    Prophetic Word: Preparing for God's World War 3

    God is searching for soldiers of the cross who are willing to volunteer for His offensive army.

  • Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Follow God on the most fulfilling journey of your life with Encounter the Holy Spirit! Break away from past hurts and press into the One who wants a personal encounter with you.

  • Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Reach your full potential and be led by His Spirit. In His Presence takes you to a deeper understanding of who God is and how he communicates with us.

  • Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Receive the power and gifts that come through the Holy Spirit Baptism. Don’t go empty-handed; accept all that He has for you! His power is available to those who ask.

  • Put on the Full Armor of God

    Put on the Full Armor of God

    Break every stronghold with the power of the Holy Spirit. Use the power of your tongue to declare and decree the Word of God. Witness heaven move on your behalf.

Use Desktop Layout
Charisma Magazine — Empowering believers for life in the Spirit