Dementia Facts And The Prevalence Of it
By Danni Peck
Updated December 12, 2018
Reviewer Lisa Cooper
Dementia is a disease category that one should be aware of as they age. In this post, we'll talk about some dementia facts and figures, and tell you what you can do to make a difference.
Fact: Alzheimer's Is the Most Prevalent Form Of Dementia
Dementia is an umbrella term that categorizes different diseases involving the breakdown of one's cognition, and the most well-known out of these diseases is Alzheimer's. Alzheimer's counts for over half of dementia diagnosis, making it the most researched and most feared out of all of them.
Fact: Younger People Can Get Dementia Too
Dementia is associated with your senior years, and some even think it is normal for your cognition to rapidly decline as you reach the end of your life. However, dementia is not normal. Not only that, but it is possible for you to get dementia before you reach 65. You will have a higher chance of the disease the older you get, but it is not unheard of for someone in their 40s, or even younger, to get it. In the US, about 200,000 people have Alzheimer's under the age of 65.
Fact: Exercise Can Help Prevent Dementia
Keeping yourself physically fit can reduce the chances of you having many diseases, and dementia is one of them. Exercise can help improve your mental well-being, so it makes sense why working out can help reduce your risk of dementia. It can also help manage the symptoms if you already have it. However, some forms of dementia may have no prevention, such as Alzheimer's.
Fact: How You Die from Dementia
With many of these diseases, the way you die may not be from the disease itself, but from a complication from it. Let's look at Alzheimer's and see the various ways you could die from its symptoms.
- Alzheimer's makes it difficult to swallow, which can lead to choking. A caregiver should make sure that their loved one isn't choking on any of their food whenever they eat.
- Alzheimer's weakens the immune system, making the patient more prone to blood clots or infections.
- Pneumonia is another way someone with Alzheimer's may die
Fact: More Women Get Dementia Than Men
Women are more likely to get dementia than men. This is more than likely because women tend to live longer, increasing their chances of getting a form of dementia. In America, about 2 in 3 patients with Alzheimer's are women.
Fact: Dementia Affects People Differently
When one thinks of dementia, they usually imagine someone losing their memories and their sense of self. However, dementia can affect some people in more ways than just that. Patients with dementia may hallucinate, have trouble speaking, have changing taste in foods, have entirely new personalities, and more. Some may keep their memories but lose everything else. This is why it is difficult to treat.
Fact: Dementia Does Not Discriminate
Even the rich, famous, and powerful may have dementia as they age. Here are a few famous people with the disease.
- President Ronald Reagan had Alzheimer's. He was diagnosed in 1994 and died in 2004. His diagnosis came only five years after the end of his Presidency. There's even been speculation that he may have developed it while he was in office, though there has been no way to prove that.
- Norman Rockwell, a famous painter whose paintings illustrated American life in the early to mid-20th century, died from Alzheimer's. He left behind paintings that are used to treat dementia, as they help those who have nostalgic memories of the period his paintings depict.
- Actor Robin Williams had Lewy body dementia. Many know about his suicide by hanging, but they may not be familiar with the fact that his dementia contributed to his death.
These are just a few of the many famous people who have lived with dementia. It can affect anyone at any time.
Fact: There Is No Cure
Some forms of dementia can have ways to prevent it or slow down the symptoms.To date, there is no cure for any of them, especially Alzheimer's, where there is no way to slow down the disease. Sometimes, you can treat the symptoms through medication and therapy, but as of this post, no cure has been developed. However, there may be one someday.
Fact: Dementia Research Is Underfunded
With Alzheimer's diagnoses on the rise, you would think that more effort would be made into research. While there have been discoveries and breakthroughs, dementia research is still underfunded when compared to other diseases. It is a bit understandable, as diseases like cancer and heart disease are still the top killers, but with the numbers on the rise, one would expect that the research would catch up to the severity. If you are interested in treating dementia, it's a good time to investigate dementia research and see if you can join the fight.
Fact: Scientists Are Unsure What Causes Alzheimer's
The brain is more complex than many imagine and figuring out what causes Alzheimer's is difficult. It is speculated that genetics and lifestyle contribute to the chances of you getting the disease, but nothing is concrete yet. Some forms of dementia have more of a solid cause, but for Alzheimer's, the evidence is still inconclusive as to what causes it.
Fact: Alzheimer's Is The 6th Leading Cause of Death In The US
Heart attacks, cancer, respiratory diseases, accidents, and strokes lead Alzheimer's, but Alzheimer's is still high on the ways you can die in the United States. In 15 years, it has jumped over 100 percent.
Fact: Every Minute, Someone In The US Develops Alzheimer's
There is a new case about every 65 seconds. It is speculated by 2050 someone will develop Alzheimer's every 30 seconds.
Fact: Alzheimer Diagnoses Is Rising
The deaths caused by many diseases are going down, but Alzheimer's has been rising in the US. This may be due to an aging population.
Fact: Alzheimer's Affects 10 percent Of Seniors
If you look at the population of people over the age of 65, there's a good chance that one in ten will have some form of dementia.
Dementia And Race
Alzheimer's seems to affect races at different rates. African-Americans may have twice the risk of dementia as whites. Meanwhile, Hispanics are 1.5 times as likely.
Dementia And The World
Some may believe that dementia only affects people in Western societies, but this is not true. There have been many cases in the East, especially in China. Dementia is a worldwide phenomenon.
Although it is possible to live with dementia and be independent, at some point, the patient will need a caregiver to help them with their daily lives. About 4/5 of caregivers are unpaid, and they are usually friends or family members. In fact, Alzheimer's counts for over 50 percent of all caregiver situations.
Caregivers are usually women, and many are the daughters of the patients with Alzheimer's. Some caregivers are senior citizens, but about 25 percent are in a sandwich situation, where they are taking care of their aging relatives and their children.
Taking care of a patient with Alzheimer's is a stressful situation for the family, with many suffering financial, emotional, or physical hardships. The family covers over 70 percent of costs for someone with dementia. The lifetime cost may be over $300,000 for just one patient alone.
More About Costs
Annually, the cost of taking care of dementia patients may be over a quarter trillion. By 2050, the cost may be over a trillion by the standards of the value of the dollar today. People with dementia have more hospital benefits and account for many nursing home patients.
While there is no way to prevent many forms of dementia, diagnosing early can help people. This allows the patient to plan their life while they are still able to and enjoy the rest of their life until they succumb to the disease. Also, early diagnosis can save money in the long run. How does it save money in the long run?
Fact: Counseling Is Important For Everyone Involved With Dementia
Dementia cam be stressful to live with. If you have been diagnosed with some form of dementia, it is inevitable that your cognitive functions will break down over time, and you may need someone to take care of you. This can lead to a loss in motivation and not knowing what to do with the remainder of your life.
Meanwhile, the caregivers of those who have dementia can be under significant stress. They might feel physically and mentally exhausted, and worry about the future of their loved one, as well as their own finances.
While no solution fits every situation, one way to find some answers is through counseling. A good counselor might be able to give the patient with dementia motivation to carry on, while they can help the caregivers make time for themselves and make sure their mental health is in check.