Population With Alzheimer's Disease Will Triple by 2050

  (Image credit: Artem Chernyshevych | Stock Xchng)

As its population gets older in the coming decades, America can expect a dramatic rise in the number of people with Alzheimer's disease.

By 2050, the number of Americans diagnosed with Alzheimer's will have tripled, to 13.8 million, from 4.7 million in 2010, according to a new study.

"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 researcher Jennifer Weuve, an assistant professor of medicine at Rush Institute for Healthy Aging, in Chicago.

The increase will be largely due to the aging Baby Boomer generation, Weuve said.

The new estimates are based on the current and projected populations of the United States (using information from the 2000 census), the incidence of Alzheimer's disease, population death rates and other factors.

The study estimates that the number of people age 65 and older in 2050  will be 88.5 million, compared with 40.3 million in 2010. [See Alzheimer's Vs. Normal Aging: How to Tell the Difference.]

The number of Americans with Alzheimer's disease in 2010 included  700,000 Americans who were ages 65-74;  2.3 million ages 75-84, and 1.8 million ages 85 and over, the study found. By 2050, when the youngest Baby Boomers will be 86 years old, those numbers will increase to 1.3 million people ages 65-74; 5.4 million ages 75- 84, and 7 million ages 85 and over.

The risk of Alzheimer's disease is highest in those over age 85.

"Our study draws attention to an urgent need for more research, treatments and preventive strategies to reduce this epidemic," Weuve said.

The study was published in the Feb. 6 issue of the journal Neurology.

Pass it on: The number of people with Alzheimer's disease in the United States will triple by 2050.

This story was provided by MyHealthNewsDaily, a sister site to LiveScience. Follow Rachael Rettner on Twitter @RachaelRettner, or MyHealthNewsDaily @MyHealth_MHND. We're also on Facebook & Google+.

Rachael Rettner

Rachael is a Live Science contributor, and was a former channel editor and senior writer for Live Science between 2010 and 2022. She has a master's degree in journalism from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. She also holds a B.S. in molecular biology and an M.S. in biology from the University of California, San Diego. Her work has appeared in Scienceline, The Washington Post and Scientific American.