It is estimated that nearly 500,000 new cases of Alzheimer's disease will be diagnosed this year in the United States. Every 3 seconds, someone in the world develops dementia. Get the facts about Alzheimer's disease—the most common form of dementia.
Quick Facts about Alzheimer's Disease
Alzheimer's is not a normal part of aging.
- Alzheimer's disease is an irreversible degeneration of the brain that causes disruptions in memory, cognition, personality, and other functions that eventually lead to death from complete brain failure.
Alzheimer's is a growing epidemic.
- More than 5.8 million Americans now have Alzheimer's disease. By 2050, nearly 14 million (13.8 million) Americans over age 65 could be living with the disease, unless scientists develop new approaches to prevent or cure it.1,2 However, estimates based on high-range projections of population growth provided by the U.S. Census suggest that this number may be as high as 16 million.1
Each day, thousands of American families are forever changed by this disease.
- Every 65 seconds, someone in America develops Alzheimer's. By mid-century, someone in America will develop the disease every 33 seconds.2 It is estimated that nearly 500,000 new cases of Alzheimer's disease will be diagnosed this year.3
Alzheimer's is on the rise throughout the world.
- Worldwide, at least 50 million people are believed to be living with Alzheimer's disease or other dementias.4 According to the United Nations, that is more than the population of Columbia.5 If breakthroughs are not discovered, rates could exceed 152 million by 2050.4
- In the time it takes to read this sentence out loud, another person somewhere in the world has been diagnosed with dementia.6 Every 3 seconds, someone in the world develops dementia.4
The overall economic impact is staggering.
- Worldwide dementia care is estimated to cost upwards of US$1 trillion.4 According to the World Bank, that’s roughly the same as the gross domestic product of Pakistan in 2017. According to public financial statements, that is more than the 2017 profits of Apple, J.P Morgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway combined.7
Alzheimer's is projected to cripple America's healthcare system.
- Total payments for health care, long-term care, and hospice for people with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias are projected to increase from $290 billion in 2018 to more than $1.1 trillion in 2050 (in 2019 dollars).1 Annual healthcare spending averages $4,500 more for patients with Alzheimer’s than similar patients.8,9
People who have Alzheimer's disease need others to care for them, and many of those providing care are not paid for their time and services.
- More than 16 million Americans, usually family and friends, provide unpaid care for someone with Alzheimer's disease or dementias.10 According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics11, that would be just shy of a tenth of the entire US workforce. In 2017, these people provided an estimated 18.5 billion hours of unpaid care, a contribution valued at more than $234 billion.1 This would be about 46% of Walmart’s total revenue in 2017 ($500.3 billion)12 and 10 times the total revenue of McDonald's in 2017 ($22.8 billion).13
Unpaid caregivers need help.
- Caring for a person with Alzheimer's or another dementia is often extremely difficult, and many family and other unpaid caregivers experience high levels of emotional stress and depression as a result.14
- Caring for someone with Alzheimer's disease has been found to have a negative impact on the health, employment, income, and financial security of many caregivers.15
Alzheimer's is the only leading cause of death that is still on the rise.
- Alzheimer's disease is the sixth-leading cause of death across all ages in the United States with a 5% increase in number of deaths in the US from 2015 to 2016. For those 65 and older, it is the fifth-leading cause of death.16
- Between 2000 and 2016, deaths attributed to Alzheimer's disease increased 139%, while those attributed to the number one cause of death-heart disease-decreased 6%.16 This increase reflects changes in patterns of reporting deaths on death certificates over time as well as an increase in the actual number of deaths attributable to Alzheimer's.
- Alzheimer's disease is currently underreported as the underlying cause of death—there is a difference between dying with Alzheimer's and death from Alzheimer's.17 Though the degree of underreporting varies.18
- A recent study found the Alzheimer's mortality rate to be five to six times higher than official estimates, suggesting that AD may be responsible for more than 500,000 annual deaths in the United States.19 If applied to the general population, these findings would make Alzheimer's the third leading (rather than sixth) cause of death in the United States, behind heart disease and cancer.
Despite the recent increases in funding to Alzheimer’s disease, the United States Government could spend more to respond to this growing epidemic.
For example, NIH's FY18 funding for cancer research is roughly 2.75 times the level spent for Alzheimer's disease research.20a,b
Sources for Alzheimer's Disease: Facts & Figures
- Alzheimer’s Association. 2019 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures Alzheimer’s Dementia 2019:15(3):321-87. https://alz.org/media/Documents/alzheimers-facts-and-figures-2019-r.pdf
- Hebert LE, Weuve J, Scherr PA, Evans DA. Alzheimer's disease in the United States (2010-2050) estimated using the 2010 Census. Neurology. Available at http://www.neurology.org/content/early/2013/02/06/WNL.0b013e31828726f5
- Hirtz D, Thurman DJ, Gwinn-Hardy K, Mohamed M, Chaudhuri AR, Zalutsky R. How common are the “common” neurologic disorders? Neurology. 2007 Jan 30;68(5):326-37. https://doi.org/10.1212/01.wnl.0000252807.38124.a3
- Patterson C. World Alzheimer Report 2018. The state of the art of dementia research: New frontiers. London: Alzheimer’s Disease International. https://www.alz.co.uk/research/WorldAlzheimerReport2018.pdf
- United Nations. Total Population - Both Sexes. World Population Prospects, the 2017 Revision. United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, Population Estimates and Projections Section. June 2017.
- That is to say, about 3 seconds. As the World Alzheimer Report 2018 puts it, “blink twice.” https://www.alz.co.uk/research/WorldAlzheimerReport2018.pdf
- Wieczner J. The Fortune 500’s 10 Most Profitable Companies. 7 June 2017 on Fortune.com. Accessed 28 Sept 2018. http://fortune.com/2017/06/07/fortune-500-companies-profit-apple-berkshire-hathaway/
- Hurd MD, Martorell P, Delavande A, Mullen KJ, Langa KM. Monetary costs of dementia in the United States. New England Journal of Medicine. 2013 Apr 4;368(14):1326-34. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMsa1204629
- Deb A, Sambamoorthi U, Thornton JD, Schreurs B, Innes K. Direct medical expenditures associated with Alzheimer's and related dementias (ADRD) in a nationally representative sample of older adults–an excess cost approach. Aging & mental health. 2018 May 4;22(5):619-24. https://doi.org/10.1080/13607863.2017.1286454
- Riffin C, Van Ness PH, Wolff JL, Fried T. Family and other unpaid caregivers and older adults with and without dementia and disability. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2017 Aug;65(8):1821-8. https://doi.org/10.1111/jgs.14910
- Walmart. 2018 Annual Report. http://s2.q4cdn.com/056532643/files/doc_financials/2018/annual/WMT-2018_Annual-Report.pdf
- McDonald’s 2017 Form 10-K filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission. https://corporate.mcdonalds.com/content/dam/gwscorp/investor-relations-content/annual-reports/McDonald%27s%202017%20Annual%20Report.pdf
- Viñas‐Diez V, Turró‐Garriga O, Portellano‐Ortiz C, Gascón‐Bayarri J, Reñé‐Ramírez R, Garre‐Olmo J, Conde‐Sala JL. Kinship and cohabitation in relation to caregiver burden in the context of Alzheimer's disease: a 24‐month longitudinal study. International journal of geriatric psychiatry. 2017 Dec;32(12):e72-82. https://doi.org/10.1002/gps.4656
- D'onofrio G, Sancarlo D, Addante F, Ciccone F, Cascavilla L, Paris F, Picoco M, Nuzzaci C, Elia AC, Greco A, Chiarini R. Caregiver burden characterization in patients with Alzheimer's disease or vascular dementia. International journal of geriatric psychiatry. 2015 Sep;30(9):891-9. https://doi.org/10.1002/gps.4232
- Heron MP. Deaths: Leading causes for 2016. National Vital Statistics Reports 67(6). Center for Disease Control and Prevention: National Vital Statistics System. 26 July 2018. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr67/nvsr67_06.pdf
- Gao L, Calloway R, Zhao E, Brayne C, Matthews FE, Medical Research Council Cognitive Function and Ageing Collaboration. Accuracy of death certification of dementia in population-based samples of older people: analysis over time. Age and ageing. 2018 Apr 28;47(4):589-94. https://doi.org/10.1093/ageing/afy068
- Wilkinson T, Ly A, Schnier C, Rannikmäe K, Bush K, Brayne C, Quinn TJ, Sudlow CL, Group UB. Identifying dementia cases with routinely collected health data: A systematic review. Alzheimer's & Dementia. 2018 Aug 1;14(8):1038-51. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jalz.2018.02.016
- James BD, Leurgans SE, Hebert LE, Scherr PA, Yaffe K, Bennett DA. Contribution of Alzheimer disease to mortality in the United States. Neurology. 2014 Mar 25;82(12):1045-50. https://doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000000240
- National Institutes of Health. Estimates of Funding for Various Research, Condition, and Disease Categories (RCDC). 18 May 2018. https://www.report.nih.gov/categorical_spending.aspx. Accessed 28 September 2018.
20a. NIH FY2018 (Enacted) for Alzheimer’s totals about $4 billion:
$1,849 million Alzheimer’s Disease
$1,915 million Alzheimer's Disease Related Dementias (ADRD)
$263 million Alzheimer's Disease including Alzheimer's Disease Related Dementias
20b. NIH FY2018 (Enacted) for cancer funding totals over $11.11 billion:
$359 million Brain cancer
$755 million Breast cancer
$6,635 million Cancer
$1,022 million Cancer genomics
$121 million Cervical cancer
$191 million Childhood leukemia
$291 million Colo-Rectal cancer
$96 million Liver cancer
$380 million Lung cancer
$72 million Neuroblastoma
$160 million Ovarian cancer
$228 million Pancreatic cancer
$486 million Pediatric cancer
$259 million Prostate cancer
$49 million Uterine cancer
$6 million Vaginal cancer
This content was last updated on: March 5, 2019
The information provided is a public service of the BrightFocus Foundation and is not intended to constitute medical advice. It should not in any way substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional. Please consult your physician for personalized medical advice; all medications and supplements should only be taken under medical supervision. BrightFocus Foundation does not endorse any medical product or therapy.