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10 Million Boomers Will Develop Alzheimer's, Report Predicts

Last Updated: 3/21/2008

Alzheimer's disease will strike one in eight U.S. baby boomers, meaning that 10 million boomers will develop the mind-wasting disease, according to a new report by the Alzheimer's Association, the 2008 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures. The report predicts by 2010, there will be almost a half million new cases of Alzheimer's disease each year, and that by 2050, almost a million new cases will surface each year. Whereas today someone in America develops Alzheimer's disease every 71 seconds, by mid-century someone will develop Alzheimer's every 33 seconds. Women are nearly twice as likely as men to develop Alzheimer's disease (17 percent vs. 9 percent). The likelihood of developing Alzheimer's doubles every five years after age 65.

"Unchecked, this disease will impose staggering consequences on families, the economy and the nation's health and long-term care infrastructure," said Harry Johns, president and CEO of the Alzheimer's Association. In 2007, there were nearly 10 million Americans age 18 and over providing 8.4 billion hours of unpaid care to people with Alzheimer's disease valued at $89 billion, four times more than what Medicaid pays for nursing home care for people with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. In addition, a quarter million American children age 8 to 18 years old are providing care to loved ones with Alzheimer's, according to the Association.

Nevertheless, most people with Alzheimer's disease end up in a nursing home or an assisted living facility "and three-quarters of people with Alzheimer's will die in such a facility," said Stephen McConnell, the Association's vice president for advocacy and public policy.

The U.S. government has cut spending on Alzheimer's research, McConnell said. "Right now the government is spending about $640 million a year on Alzheimer's research," he said. "It seems like a lot, but we are spending over $5 billion a year on cancer, and more than $3 billion on heart disease each year. If we can just get that $640 million up to $1 billion a year, that would make a big difference."

"There is real hope for a better future where Alzheimer's is no longer a death sentence but how fast we get there depends on how much we are willing to invest today," added Alzheimer's Association president Johns.