Health by the Numbers: Alzheimer's Disease

It's been more than 100 years (1906) since the German physician Alois Alzheimer first described the symptoms that have since become known as Alzheimer's disease.

Advancing age is the greatest risk factor for the disease for which there is no cure. Alzheimer's disease is the progressive loss of intellectual function. It is a degenerative disorder that attacks the brain's nerve cells (neurons) and results in loss of memory, thinking and language skills as well as behavior changes. Ultimately, Alzheimer's disease is fatal due mostly to a patient contracting Alzheimer's-related pneumonia.

Here's a look at Alzheimer's disease by the numbers:

1 in 8: Number of older Americans living with Alzheimer's disease.

5.2 million: Number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer's.

200,000: Number of individuals under age 65 who have younger-onset Alzheimer's.

45: Percentage of people age 85 and older with the disease.

68: Number of seconds that passes until someone new is diagnosed.

200 billion: Estimated payments for care of Alzheimer's patients in 2012.

6th: Alzheimer's is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S.

60 to 80: Percentage of dementia considered Alzheimer's disease, the most common type of dementia.

3: Number of stages of the disease that include, pre-clinical Alzheimer's disease; MCI (mild cognitive impairment) due to Alzheimer's disease and dementia due to Alzheimer's disease.

20: Number of years that Alzheimer's begins making changes in the brain before symptoms occur.

100 billion: Number of neurons in a health adult brain.

65: Age at which most people are diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

10 to 20: Percentage of people age 65 and older with MCI (people with MCI are more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease).

6 to 12: Number of months a person with MCI should have his or her thinking and memory checked by a doctor or specialist.

4 to 8: Average number of years a person over 65 is expected to live after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

75: Percentage of people over 80 with Alzheimer's disease admitted to a nursing home to live out final days.

800,000: Number of Americans with Alzheimer's disease who live alone.

$79,110 to $87,235 per year: Average cost of nursing home care per year.

80: Percentage of care for Alzheimer's disease patients that is provided at home by family caregivers.

5: Number of FDA approved drugs that temporarily improve Alzheimer's symptoms.

2030: Year the over 65 population in the US is expected to double to 71 million making up 20 percent of the total population.

Hope in the form of a promising new treatment—a nasal vaccine—which stimulates the body's own immune system to clear out the accumulation of beta-amyloid protein (thought to be one cause of the cognitive decline) in the brain may be just a few years away, according to Alzheimer's researcher Dennis Selkoe, MD.

In the meantime, there are medications that can be used alone or in combination to provide some relief of symptoms and slow the decline in mental function.




Alzheimer's Foundation of America

Alzheimer's Association

National Institute on Aging

Alzheimer's Research and Prevention Foundation