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New Alzheimer’s Association report shows growing costs, impact of disease

More than 107,000 West Virginia caregivers provided 122 million hours of unpaid care  for someone living with Alzheimer’s or dementia in 2016 

Release from the Alzheimer’s Association:

CHARLESTON, W.Va., March 7, 2017– For the first time, total payments for caring for individuals living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias exceeded a quarter trillion dollars ($259 billion), according to findings from the 2017 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report. The report was released today by the Alzheimer’s Association. 

The report also discusses the disease’s impact on caregivers, such as family members. “Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or other dementias is exceptionally demanding on families,” said Bethany Hall, Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Association, West Virginia Chapter. “Among primary caregivers of people with dementia, over half take care of their parents. And, nearly one quarter of those dementia caregivers are ‘sandwich generation’ caregiver, meaning they are not only caring for an aging parent, but also for children under age 18.”

More than 15 million Americans provide unpaid care, such as physical, emotional and financial support, for the estimated 5.5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s dementia. In 2016, Alzheimer’s caregivers provided an estimated 18.2 billion hours of unpaid care, which the report valued at $230.1 billion.

These contributions disproportionately come from women, who make up two-thirds of Alzheimer’s caregivers. New findings highlighted in the report show that of all dementia caregivers who provided care for more than 40 hours a week, 69 percent are women. Of those providing care to someone with dementia for more than 5 years, 63 percent are women and 37 percent are men.

The Facts and Figures report also found that the strain of caregiving produces serious physical and mental health consequences. For instance, more than one out of three (35 percent) caregivers for people with Alzheimer’s or another dementia report that their health has gotten worse due to care responsibilities, compared to one out of five (19 percent) caregivers for older people without dementia. Also, depression and anxiety are more common among dementia caregivers than among people providing care for individuals with certain other conditions.

“Often times, caregivers forget to care for themselves,” said Bethany Hall. “We at the Alzheimer’s Association hope these findings encourage caregivers of people living with dementia to proactively look for signs of caregiver stress and seek the resources and support we offer to help manage their stress.”

Soaring Cost, Prevalence and Mortality

The Facts and Figures report provides an in-depth look at the latest national statistics and information on Alzheimer’s prevalence, incidence, use and costs of care, caregiving and mortality.

Findings in the report show that, for the first time, total annual payments for health care, long-term care and hospice care for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias have surpassed a quarter of a trillion dollars ($259 billion). Additionally, despite support from Medicare, Medicaid and other sources of financial assistance, individuals with Alzheimer’s or other dementias still incur high out-of-pocket costs. The average per-person out-of-pocket costs for seniors with Alzheimer’s and other dementias are almost five times higher than average per-person payments for seniors without these conditions ($10,315 versus $2,232).

Although deaths from other major causes have decreased, new data from the report shows that deaths from Alzheimer’s disease have increased significantly. Between 2000 and 2014, deaths from heart disease decreased 14 percent, while deaths from Alzheimer’s disease have increased 89 percent.

Alzheimer’s By the Numbers: Additional Findings on Prevalence, Incidence and Mortality

  • Of the estimated 5.5 million Americans with Alzheimer’s dementia in 2017, 5.3 million people are age 65 and older and approximately 200,000 are under age 65 (younger-onset Alzheimer’s) including more than 37,000 West Virginians aged 65 and older.
  • Barring the development of medical breakthroughs, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s dementia may nearly triple from 5.3 million to 13.8 million by 2050.
  • Every 66 seconds, someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer’s dementia. By mid-century, someone in the U.S. will develop the disease every 33 seconds.
  • Approximately 480,000 people—almost half a million—age 65 or older will develop Alzheimer’s dementia in the U.S. in 2017.
  • Two-thirds of Americans over age 65 with Alzheimer’s dementia (3.3 million) are women.
  • Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S. and the fifth-leading cause of death for those ages 65 and older.
  • Alzheimer’s remains the only disease among the top 10 causes of death in America that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed.

Cost of Paid and Unpaid Care

  • Total national cost of caring for those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias is estimated at $259 billion (excludes unpaid caregiving), of which $175 billion is the cost to Medicare and Medicaid alone.
  • Total payments for health care, long-term care and hospice for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias are projected to increase to more than $1.1 trillion in 2050 (in 2017 dollars).
  • In West Virginia, the report estimated total Medicaid costs for Americans with dementia age 65 and older at $394 million for 2017. In the next eight years, that figure is expected to increase 28.3% to more than $505 million.

“The Alzheimer’s Association is here to encourage and support West Virginia caregivers,” said Carolyn Canini, Program Director for the Alzheimer’s Association, West Virginia Chapter. “Through our 24-7 Helpline, in-person care consultations, educational workshops and support groups, caregivers can learn how best to care for their loved on and themselves.”

Full text of the Alzheimer’s Association 2017 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report can be viewed at The report will also appear in the April 2017 issue of Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association. 

About 2017 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures 

The Alzheimer’s Association 2017 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report is a comprehensive compilation of national statistics and information on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. The report conveys the impact of Alzheimer’s on individuals, families, government and the nation’s health care system. Since its 2007 inaugural release, the report has become the preeminent source covering the broad spectrum of Alzheimer’s issues. The Facts and Figures report is an official publication of the Alzheimer’s Association.

About the Alzheimer’s Association

The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research, to provide and enhance care and support for all affected, and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s. For more information, visit the Alzheimer’s Association at or call the 24/7 helpline at 800-272-3900.

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