Alzheimer’s Disease: Facts & Figures

  • Fact Sheet
Published on:
A series of brain scans.

Reviewed by Sharyn Rossi, PhD 

Every three seconds, someone in the world develops dementia.1 That’s the same amount of time it takes to read this sentence out loud. 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 interfere with everyday activities and eventually lead to death from complete brain failure. 

Age is the greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. 

  • The percentage of people with Alzheimer's increases with age: 5% of people aged 65 to 74, 13% of people aged 75-84, and 33% of people aged 85 and older have Alzheimer's dementia.2 

Alzheimer's is a growing epidemic. 

  • An estimated 6.9 million Americans older than 65, have Alzheimer's disease. By 2050, the number of people aged 65 and older with Alzheimer's and other dementias is projected to reach nearly 13 million unless scientists develop new approaches to prevent or cure it.2,3  

  • Almost 10% of U.S. adults aged 65 and older have dementia, while another 22% have mild cognitive impairment.4

  • Roughly 75% of all dementia cases go undiagnosed globally (up to 90% in some low-income countries).5 

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.6 The number of people living with the disease doubles every 5 years beyond age 65.7 

Alzheimer's is on the rise throughout the world. 

  • Worldwide, at least 55 million people are believed to be living with Alzheimer's disease or other dementias. If breakthroughs are not discovered, rates could exceed 152 million by 2050.8 

In the U.S., Black and Hispanic adults are at increased risk for Alzheimer’s than non-Hispanic whites. 

  • There is a disproportionate burden of dementia and mild cognitive impairment among older Black and Hispanic adults and those with lower levels of education.3

  • Nearly 19% of Black and 14% of Hispanic persons aged 65 and older have Alzheimer’s, compared with 10 percent of older white adults.2

  • Despite their higher rates of developing Alzheimer's, Black and Hispanic adults are less likely than white adults to be diagnosed with the condition.9 

  • Chronic conditions that are associated with higher dementia risk, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, disproportionately affect Black and Hispanic populations. This may partially explain the elevated risk of dementia among Black and Hispanic adults.2 

Women globally are at a higher risk for developing Alzheimer’s with age than their male counterparts. 

  • Women are disproportionately affected by Alzheimer’s disease. They comprise approximately two-thirds of all patients and are twice as likely as men to develop Alzheimer’s.10,11  

  • A combination of biology and environment leads to increased Alzheimer’s risk in women, including genetics, hormones, and gender and life experiences, amongst other possible factors.11 

The overall economic impact is staggering. 

  • In 2019, dementia care cost the global economy over $1 trillion (US), roughly half of which is attributed to caregiving by family and friends.12 According to public financial statements, that is more than the combined profits of the top 10 most profitable American companies in 2022, including Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon.13 

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 $360 billion in 2024 to just under $1 trillion in 2050 (in 2024 dollars). The average annual per-person cost in 2022 was over $28,000 more for people with dementia than those without dementia.3 

People with Alzheimer's disease need support from others, and many of those providing care are not paid for their time and services. 

  • Over 11 million Americans, usually family and friends, provide unpaid care for someone with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias every year. In 2023, these people provided an estimated 18.4 billion hours of unpaid care, a contribution valued at roughly $350 billion.3 

Unpaid caregivers need help. 

  • Caring for someone with Alzheimer's or another dementia is often extremely difficult. Many families and other unpaid caregivers experience high levels of emotional stress/depression and negative impacts on personal health, employment, income, and financial security.14,15 

Alzheimer's is the only leading cause of death that is still on the rise. 

  • Due to the COVID pandemic, Alzheimer's disease dropped from the sixth to the seventh-leading cause of death across all ages in the United States. For those 65 and older, it remains the sixth-leading cause of death for 2021.16,17   

  • In 2020, COVID-19 contributed to a 10.5% increase in Alzheimer's and dementia deaths.16 Pandemic inflation in Alzheimer’s disease-related deaths came down in 2021, aligning more with pre-pandemic levels (2014-2019).3,16    

  • Between 2000 and 2019, deaths attributed to Alzheimer's disease increased 145%, while those attributed to the number one cause of death—heart disease—decreased 7%.18,19 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. 

  • The prevalence of Alzheimer's disease is underreported as an underlying cause of death, though projections as to the degree of underreporting vary.20,21

Despite recent increases in funding for Alzheimer’s disease, the U.S. government could spend more to respond to this growing epidemic. For example, the National Institute of Health’s FY22 budget allotted over $2 million more to the National Cancer Institute ($6.7 million, ~43% to research project grants) compared to the National Aging Institute ($4.0 million, ~75% to research project grants).22,23

Explore more fact sheets on Alzheimer's Disease.

A series of brain scan images.

About BrightFocus Foundation

BrightFocus Foundation is a premier global nonprofit funder of research to defeat Alzheimer’s, macular degeneration, and glaucoma. Through its flagship research programs — Alzheimer’s Disease Research, National Glaucoma Research, and Macular Degeneration Research — the Foundation has awarded nearly $290 million in groundbreaking research funding over the past 50 years and shares the latest research findings, expert information, and resources to empower the millions impacted by these devastating diseases. Learn more at   


The information provided in this section is a public service of BrightFocus Foundation, should not in any way substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional, and is not intended to constitute medical advice. Although we make efforts to keep the medical information on our website updated, we cannot guarantee that the information on our website reflects the most up-to-date research.     

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.  

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