Population of Americans with Alzheimer's will more than double by 2060, study shows

December 7, 2017, University of California, Los Angeles
Ron Brookmeyer. Credit: UCLA Fielding School of Public Health

About 15 million Americans will have either Alzheimer's dementia or mild cognitive impairment by 2060, up from approximately 6.08 million this year, according to a new study by researchers at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.

The findings highlight the need to develop measures that could slow the progression of the disease in people who have indications of neuropathological changes that could eventually lead to Alzheimer's dementia, said Ron Brookmeyer, professor of biostatistics at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and the study's lead author. The country's population is aging and with it comes a growing number of people with Alzheimer's disease.

The study was published today in the peer-reviewed Alzheimer's and Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association. The study is the first of its kind that has estimated the numbers of Americans with preclinical Alzheimer's disease or .

"There are about 47 million people in the U.S. today who have some evidence of preclinical Alzheimer's, which means they have either a build-up of protein fragments called beta-amyloid or neurodegeneration of the brain but don't yet have symptoms," Brookmeyer said. "Many of them will not progress to Alzheimer's dementia in their lifetimes. We need to have improved methods to identify which persons will progress to clinical symptoms, and develop interventions for them that could slow the progression of the disease, if not stop it all together."

The researchers examined the largest studies available on rates of progression of Alzheimer's disease and used that information in a computer model they built that took into account the aging of the U.S population. The model projected the numbers of people in preclinical and clinical disease states.

They found that by 2060 about 5.7 million Americans will have mild cognitive impairment and another 9.3 million will have dementia due to Alzheimer's. Of the latter group, about 4 million Americans will need an intensive level of care similar to that provided by nursing homes. Mild cognitive impairment is an intermediate clinical stage that does not yet meet the threshold for dementia. Brookmeyer estimates that today about 2.4 million Americans are living with mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer's disease.

"Estimates by disease state and severity are important because the resources needed to care for patients vary so much over the course of the illness," Brookmeyer said.

There are some sources of uncertainty in the findings. Participants in the studies the researchers examined may not represent all demographics. Also, there are other types of dementia, such as vascular , that were not examined but could have an impact on these numbers.

Explore further: Being unaware of memory loss predicts Alzheimer's disease, new study shows

Related Stories

Being unaware of memory loss predicts Alzheimer's disease, new study shows

October 10, 2017
While memory loss is an early symptom of Alzheimer's disease, its presence doesn't mean a person will develop dementia. A new study at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) has found a clinically useful way to ...

Hearing loss linked to early memory and thinking problems

July 17, 2017
Researchers at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference 2017 have suggested that people with a family history of Alzheimer's disease who experience hearing loss, are more likely to also experience a decline in ...

Personality changes don't precede clinical onset of Alzheimer's, study shows

September 21, 2017
For years, scientists and physicians have been debating whether personality and behavior changes might appear prior to the onset of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias.

Less fluent speech could be a sign of early memory problems

July 17, 2017
Researchers in the US have found that people with very mild memory and thinking problems also show changes in their everyday speech.

Can poor sleep boost odds for Alzheimer's?

July 18, 2017
(HealthDay)— Breathing problems during sleep may signal an increased risk for Alzheimer's disease, a trio of studies suggests.

Alzheimer's drug prescribed 'off-label' for mild cognitive impairment could pose risk for some

February 24, 2017
Donepezil, a medication that is approved to treat people with Alzheimer's disease, should not be prescribed for people with mild cognitive impairment without a genetic test. UCLA School of Nursing researchers discovered that ...

Recommended for you

Practice imperfect—repeated cognitive testing can obscure early signs of dementia

July 12, 2018
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a progressive, neurodegenerative condition that often begins with mild cognitive impairment or MCI, making early and repeated assessments of cognitive change crucial to diagnosis and treatment.

The 'Big Bang' of Alzheimer's: Scientists ID genesis of disease, focus efforts on shape-shifting tau

July 10, 2018
Scientists have discovered a "Big Bang" of Alzheimer's disease – the precise point at which a healthy protein becomes toxic but has not yet formed deadly tangles in the brain.

'Skinny fat' in older adults may predict dementia, Alzheimer's risk

July 5, 2018
A new study has found that "skinny fat—the combination of low muscle mass and strength in the context of high fat mass—may be an important predictor of cognitive performance in older adults. While sarcopenia, the loss ...

Pathway of Alzheimer's degeneration discovered

July 5, 2018
Scientists at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital (The Neuro) of McGill University have used a unique approach to track brain degeneration in Alzheimer's disease, uncovering a pathway through which degeneration ...

Brain study paves way for therapy for common cause of dementia

July 4, 2018
Scientists have uncovered a potential approach to treat one of the commonest causes of dementia and stroke in older people.

Sleep disorder linked with changes to brain structure typical of dementia

July 4, 2018
Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is associated with changes to the structure of the brain that are also seen in the early stages of dementia, according to a study published in the European Respiratory Journal.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.