Burden Of Care For Alzheimer’s Disease Rising Fast

Neurodegenerative Disease The Fastest-Growing Cause Of Death

Someone in the world develops dementia every three seconds. There were an estimated 46.8 million people worldwide living with dementia diagnoses in 2015 and this number is believed to be close to 50 million people in 2017. This number will almost double every 20 years, reaching 75 million in 2030 and 131.5 million in 2050. The X factor is the number of people who have dementia, but have not been diagnosed. It’s estimated that the real number is drastically higher.

Much of the increase will be in developing countries. Already 58 percent of people with dementia live in low and middle income countries, but by 2050 this will rise to 68 percent.

The total estimated worldwide cost of dementia is US$818 billion in 2015, which represents 1.09 percent of global GDP. By 2018, the global cost of dementia will rise above a US$1 trillion.

This figure includes costs attributed to informal care (unpaid care provided by family and others), direct costs of social care (provided by community care professionals, and in residential home settings) and the direct costs of medical care (the costs of treating dementia and other conditions in primary and secondary care).

In the U.S. alone, it’s estimated that Alzheimer’s disease is already costing citizens $277 billion annually, including $186 billion in Medicare and Medicaid payments. 

Between 2000 and 2015, deaths from Alzheimer’s disease as recorded on death certificates increased 123 percent, while deaths from the number one cause of death (heart disease) decreased 11 percent. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s disease isn’t always diagnosed and it isn’t accurately reported as the cause of death in the majority of cases. Eighty-three percent of the help provided to older adults in the United States comes from family members, friends or other unpaid caregivers. Nearly half of all caregivers who provide help to older adults do so for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia.

Alzheimers disease epidemic

Direct medical care costs account for roughly 20 percent of global dementia costs, while direct social sector costs and informal care costs each account for roughly 40 percent. The relative contribution of informal care is greatest in the African regions and lowest in North America, Western Europe and some South American regions, while the reverse is true for social sector costs.

This means that if global dementia care were a country, it would be the 18th largest economy in the world. The annual costs exceed the market values of companies such as Apple (US $742 billion) and Google (US $368 billion).

Research shows that most people currently living with dementia have not received a formal diagnosis. In high income countries, only 20-50 percent of dementia cases are recognised and documented in primary care. This ‘treatment gap’ is certainly much greater in low and middle income countries, with one study in India suggesting 90 percent remain undiagnosed. If these statistics are extrapolated to other countries worldwide, it suggests that approximately three quarters of people with dementia have not received a diagnosis, and therefore do not have access to treatment, care and organized support that getting a formal diagnosis can provide.

Earlier diagnosis and early intervention are important mechanisms by which the treatment gap can be closed. Among all people alive today, if those who will get Alzheimer’s disease were diagnosed when they had mild cognitive impairment (MCI) — before dementia — it would save trillions of dollars in health and long-term care costs.

Alzheimer's disease prevention

Crossbow Communications specializes in issue management and public affairs. Alzheimer’s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, chronic wasting disease and the prion disease epidemic is an area of special expertise. Please contact Gary Chandler to join our coalition for reform gary@crossbow1.com.

Alzheimer’s Disease Mortality Trends In The U.S.

Alzheimer’s Disease Death Trends

  • Alzheimer’s disease accounted for 16,754 deaths in 1993, 98 percent of which were to Americans 65 years of age and over.
  • The number of people who died from Alzheimer’s disease in 1993 was nearly 20 times the number reported in 1979 (857) when the disease was first identified separately as a cause of death. However, the increase likely reflects improvements in reporting and diagnosis of the disease rather than increases in prevalence.

Alzheimer's disease treatment

  • The overall age-adjusted death rate from Alzheimer’s disease increased to 2.3 deaths per 100,000 in 1993. Rates increased rapidly from 1979 to 1988 before leveling off between 1988 and 1992.
  • Death rates from Alzheimer’s disease increase with age. For Americans aged 65-74 years the death rate was nearly 10 deaths per 100,000 population. For persons aged 75-84 years the rate increased to 64 per 100,000 population and for those age 85 years and over it was almost 228 per 100,000 population.
  • Age-adjusted death rates from Alzheimer’s disease were greater for males than for females, but the differences in rates by sex decreased substantially from 1979 to 1993. Age-adjusted rates were nearly two times higher for the white population than for the black population.
  • The State with the highest reported Alzheimer’s death rate was Montana (56 deaths per 100,000 population aged 65 years and over), followed by Utah (52 deaths per 100,000) and Vermont (50 deaths per 100,000). New York had the lowest reported Alzheimer’s death rate (12 deaths per 100,000 population aged 65 years and over), followed by New Jersey (21 deaths per 100,000) and Pennsylvania (22 deaths per 100,000). The large differences between State rates probably reflect differences in reporting practices rather than true differences in prevalence.

Reports are based on information from death certificates completed by funeral directors, attending physicians, coroners, and medical examiners. Sources: “Mortality Trends for Alzheimer’s Disease, 1979-91,” Vital and Health Statistics Series 20, No. 28″ and “Advance Report of Final Mortality Statistics, 1993,” Monthly Vital Statistics Report, Volume 44, Supplement, (in production).

treat Alzheimer's disease

Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and other forms of neurodegenerative disease are collectively becoming the leading cause of death around the world. Alzheimer’s disease alone is killing 50-100 million people now. Millions more will contract the disease this year, while just as many will go undiagnosed and misdiagnosed. The vast majority of cases are preventable.