Many seniors and caregivers providing Alzheimer's care understand how serious Alzheimer's disease is, but a recent study put numbers to the growing problem. The research showed that the number of people with the disease may triple by 2050.
In the study, published in the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, researchers noted that the increase in the number of individuals with Alzheimer's is largely linked to the baby boomer population. That is, because there are roughly 10,000 boomers turning 65 each day, the burden they will place on senior care will be great. Alzheimer's disease rates are growing at just as steady a rate, and the confluence of the two is expected to cause great stress to the healthcare system, including caregivers.
"This increase is due to an aging baby boom generation. It will place a huge burden on society, disabling more people who develop the disease, challenging their caregivers, and straining medical and social safety nets," said study co-author Dr. Jennifer Weuve, assistant professor of medicine at the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. "Our study draws attention to an urgent need for more research, treatments and preventive strategies to reduce this epidemic."
According to the Pew Research Center, by 2030, all baby boomers will have crossed the threshold into seniority, making up a whopping 18 percent of the American population. Fortunately, the Obama administration has recognized these looming statistics, and established the National Plan to Address Alzheimer's Disease, a $100 million program to boost research, awareness, education, outreach and caregiver support. The first goal of the act is to prevent and treat Alzheimer's disease by 2025.
The act has bolstered research since it was passed last year, allowing scientists to make impressive strides. However, there is still no cure for the disease, which currently affects one in eight seniors and is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the Alzheimer's Association.