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Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias

Photo of elderly person's hand showing sticky note saying 'Dementia,' surrounded by other sticky notes containing memory questions

Did you know that the number of older adults with Alzheimer’s disease is expected to nearly triple over the next 40 years? Learn who’s at risk and steps you can take to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s and related dementias that cause memory decline and loss of independence.

Alzheimer’s and related dementias have wide-ranging impacts not only on those with the disease, their families and caregivers, but also on communities and health-care systems. Learn what communities, the public health workforce, health care professionals, and decision-makers can do to improve the lives of people who live with these illnesses.

What are Alzheimer’s disease and dementia?

Dementia is a general term for conditions that cause loss of memory severe enough that they may impact a person’s ability to carry out daily activities. There are many kinds of dementia, but Alzheimer’s is the most common type.

Alzheimer’s Disease is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking, language, and behavior. It may begin with mild memory loss, and symptoms can slowly worsen over time.

Who’s at risk?

A major risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias is age; however, race and ethnicity can be risk factors for the diseases as well. Among people ages 65 and older, the largest percentage of those with the diseases were African Americans (14 percent), followed by Hispanics (12 percent), and non-Hispanic whites (10 percent).

Hispanic and African American populations are expected to have the greatest increase in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. By 2060, the number of Hispanics will be seven times larger than what it is now and the number of African Americans will be four times larger.

The increases are a result of fewer people dying from other chronic diseases and surviving into older adulthood when the risk for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias increases.

Infographic illustrating that new estimates of American's with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias show racial and ethnic disparities

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What you can do to help reduce the impact in your community

There are several things that can be done to help persons with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, their caregivers, and persons at risk for dementia.

Caregivers can:

  • Encourage those with symptoms to speak with their healthcare provider.
  • Plan for the financial and health-related impacts that caregivers often experience over the course of the person’s dementia.

Healthcare providers can:

  • Improve the recognition of early signs of dementia for racial/ethnic groups through culturally appropriate strategies.
  • Educate persons/caregivers about available services related to care, care planning and coordination of care.

Public health professionals can:

  • Work with partners to develop, promote, and spread effective strategies to train health care workers about early signs of dementia despite cultural differences.
  • Improve access to treatment and care management for persons and caregivers.

References

  1. Matthews KA, Xu W, Gaglioti AH, Holt JB, Croft JB, Mack D, and McGuire LC (2018). Racial and ethnic estimates of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias in the United States (2015–2060) in adults aged ≥65 years. Alzheimer’s & Dementia.
  2. Xu J, Kochanek KD, Sherry L, Murphy BS, Tejada-Vera B. Deaths: final data for 2007. National vital statistics reports; vol. 58, no. 19. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2010.
  3. Heron M. Deaths: leading causes for 2010. National vital statistics reports; vol. 62, no 6. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2013.
  4. Matthews KA, Xu W, Gaglioti AH, Holt JB, Croft JB, Mack D, and McGuire LC (2018). Racial and ethnic estimates of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias in the United States (2015–2060) in adults aged ≥65 years. Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

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