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September Is World Alzheimer's Month

Facts About Alzheimer's Disease

  • Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia among older adults. It involves parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language and can seriously affect a person's ability to carry out daily activities.
  • Although not a normal part of aging, the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease increases with age. Most individuals with Alzheimer's disease are older than 65. However, people younger than age 65 also can develop Alzheimer's disease.
  • Scientists do not know what causes Alzheimer's disease, but it is believed that it is similar to other chronic conditions and develops as a result of multiple factors rather than a single cause.

Global Alzheimer's Disease

  • According to the World Health Organization, 35.6 million people have dementia worldwide, with just more than half (58%) living in low- and middle-income countries. The total number of people with dementia is projected to almost double every 20 years, to 65.7 million in 2030 and 115.4 million in 2050. Much of this increase is attributable to the rising numbers of people with dementia living in low- and middle-income countries.

Alzheimer's Disease in the United States

  • In 2013, an estimated 5 million Americans aged 65 years or older have Alzheimer's disease and this is estimated to triple to as high as 13.8 million unless more effective ways to prevent and treat the disease are identified and implemented.1
  • Alzheimer's disease ranks as the 6th leading cause of death among adults aged 18 years or older, and is the 5th leading cause of death for adults aged 65 years or older.
  • In 2010, the direct and indirect costs of dementia among those aged 70 and over totaled an estimated $159 billion to $215 billion (depending upon the monetary value placed on informal care). The direct health care expenditures were significantly higher than cancer and similar to heart disease.2

Current Efforts

A coordinated approach involving public and private partners is needed to address Alzheimer's disease and its devastating effects on individuals, families, and the health care system. There are several new and existing activities currently underway. Some of these efforts are described below.

CDC Healthy Brain Initiative

Photo: Road Map CoverThe CDC Healthy Brain Initiative began in 2005, and aims to better understand the public health burden of cognitive impairment, including Alzheimer's disease, through conducting surveillance; building a strong evidence base for policy, communication, and programmatic interventions for improving cognitive health; and translating that foundation into effective public health practice in states and communities.

A new public health road map, The Healthy Brain Initiative: The Public Health Road Map for State and National Partnerships, 2013–2018, focuses on actions that state and local public health agencies can take with their partners to promote cognitive functioning, address cognitive impairment for individuals living in the community, and help meet the needs of care partners. Agencies are encouraged to select actions from the Road Map that best fit state and local needs and customize them to match priorities, capabilities and resources.

National Plan to Address Alzheimer's

The National Alzheimer's Project Act (NAPA) was signed into law on January 4, 2011, by the President of the United States. NAPA (Public Law 111-375) calls for creating an Advisory Council comprising CDC and other federal and nonfederal partners to develop a national strategic plan for federal agencies to address and overcome the rapidly escalating crisis of Alzheimer's disease. The National Plan to Address Alzheimer's Disease enhances coordination of Alzheimer's disease efforts across the federal government by specifying outcome-driven objectives, recommendations, implementation steps, and accountability.

References

1 Hebert LE, Weuve J, Scherr PA, Evans, DL. Alzheimer disease in the United States (2010-2050) estimated using the 2010 census. Neurology. 2013; 80(19):1778-83. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e31828726f5. Epub 2013 Feb 6.

2 Hurd MD, Martorell, P, Delavande, A, Mullen, KJ, Langa, KM. Monetary costs of dementia in the United States. NEJM. 2013;36814:1326-34. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMsa1204629.  

 

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  • Page last updated: September 16, 2013
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