In the United States, the growth in the number of older adults is unprecedented. In 2016, 49 million US adults (15% of the population) were 65 or older. By 2060, that number is expected to climb to about 98 million, or nearly 25% of US residents.
Age brings a higher risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and cancer, which are the nation’s leading drivers of illness, disability, deaths, and health care costs. Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are most common in adults 60 and older, and the risk increases with age. Health care and long-term care costs associated with Alzheimer’s and other dementias are an estimated $277 billion, making them some of the costliest conditions to society.
CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion funds partners to improve the health of older adults by:
- Helping those with dementia remain active, independent, and involved in their community as long as possible.
- Providing resources to help caregivers stay healthy and deliver
- Increasing the use of clinical preventive services like blood pressure checks, cancer screenings, and blood sugar testing.
- Providing CDC-recognized lifestyle change programs to Medicare beneficiaries through the National Diabetes Prevention Program (National DPP) to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Promoting physical activity programs to reduce arthritis pain and prevent falls.
Helping Older Adults With Dementia
Alzheimer’s disease, a type of dementia, is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that affects an estimated 5.8 million Americans. It is the sixth leading cause of death among all adults and the fifth leading cause for those aged 65 or older. Alzheimer’s disease slowly destroys brain function, leading to cognitive decline (such as memory loss, language difficulty, or poor executive function), behavioral and psychiatric disorders (such as depression, delusions, or agitation), and functional decline (such as less ability to engage in activities of daily living and self-care).
Twice as many Americans fear the loss of mental capabilities as the loss of physical ability. People with cognitive impairment find it difficult to maintain their health or manage other chronic conditions. Early detection of cognitive decline, including Alzheimer’s and other dementias, can help people develop plans for care.