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In the United States, around 5.4 million people live with Alzheimer's disease, a type of dementia, according to the Alzheimer's Association's “2011 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures.” With Alzheimer's disease, patients lose brain function, resulting in problems with language, perception and memory. Alzheimer's disease can start before age 60 (early onset Alzheimer's disease) or after age 60 (late onset Alzheimer's disease). The risk for Alzheimer's disease increases as a person ages—and that rising risk is being seen as the baby boomers start turning 65 years old.
In the Alzheimer's Association's new report “Generation Alzheimer's: The Defining Disease of the Baby Boomers,” the organization revealed some very eye opening statistics on the risk of Alzheimer's disease as the baby boomers age:
Out of every eight baby boomers, one will get Alzheimer's disease after she turns 65 years old; at age 85, that risk grows to one in two.
With the 65 and over population in the United States expected to double by 2030, there may be up to 16 million people with Alzheimer's disease by 2050; there may be almost 1 million new Alzheimer's disease cases diagnosed each year.
For the general population in the United States, 4 percent of people move to a nursing home by age 80; with Alzheimer's disease, that number rises to 75 percent.
Each year in the United States, more than 800,000 people die from this neurological disease. It is the sixth leading cause of death, with the number of deaths rising 66 percent from 2000 to 2008.
In the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, patients can have difficulty performing certain tasks, such as balancing their checkbook, and problems finding the name for a particular object. Personality changes, a flat mood, and misplacing items can occur. As the disease progresses, the memory loss becomes more apparent, with patients having trouble remembering both current information and information from their past. The language problems become more severe, affecting patients' reading and writing. Other issues that can occur in the mid-stage of Alzheimer's disease include depression, sleep changes, social withdraw and poor judgment.