Blue Cross has reported a 200% increase in the number of Americans age 30 to 64 diagnosed with early-onset dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association recorded the increase between the years 2013 and 2017, among commercially insured Americans, and findings also show that women make up 58% of those diagnosed.
A closer look at the numbers reveals that the increase is particularly dramatic among younger American adults, with a 373% increase in early-onset dementia or Alzheimer’s disease among 30 to 44-year-olds. The increase is high across the board, though, with a rise of 311% among 45 to 54-year-olds and 143% among 55 to 64-year-olds.
The research reveals that 'the average age of a person living with either form of dementia is 49'. However John Dwyer, president of the Global Alzheimer’s Platform Foundation, has highlighted that "Alzheimer’s disease starts in the brain years before clinical symptoms become apparent. This report shows that people as young as 30 have outward symptoms. We need more research to stop Alzheimer’s disease progression in people of all ages".
Dr. Vincent Nelson, vice president of medical affairs for BCBSA, described the findings as "concerning, especially since there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease".
He went on to say that "further education and research is needed to learn more about early-onset dementia and Alzheimer’s, how to treat these conditions and what can be done to better prevent diagnoses".
Blue Cross Blue Shield, which is our top pick of the best health insurance companies, gathered data for the report from its database of more than 48 million commercially insured customers.
Alzheimer’s: The cost of caregiving
With an increase in Alzheimer’s diagnoses comes increased economic struggles. The report finds that 'nearly 16 million family members and friends provided over 18 billion hours of unpaid care to persons with Alzheimer’s disease in America, costing an estimated $221 billion.'
It also notes that 'the added stress and time commitment these caregivers incur can also lead to depression, social isolation and financial stress.'
Although the best medical alert systems can help carers with early-stage caregiving, these are not long-term solutions as caregiving requirements increase.
Of the total lifetime cost of caring for someone with dementia, 70% is funded by families — either through out-of-pocket health and care expenses or through unpaid care. With this in mind, it's important to make sure you're insured for larger expenses, so check out our guide on how to choose a health insurance plan, and make sure you understand the health insurance jargon to make an informed choice.
Alzheimer’s: What you need to know
There are currently 5.8 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s. By 2015, the Alzheimer’s Association predicts that this number will be nearly 14 million. One in ten people age 65 and older has Alzheimer's dementia, and it's the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States.
If you would like to learn more about dementia and Alzheimer's, the Alzheimer's association has a wealth of resources. If you are concerned that you may be struggling with early-onset dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, check this list of ten signs and symptoms and contact your doctor immediately.