(MSN HEALTHY LIVING) By Keely Savoie
What baby boomers need to know now.
Here’s a hard truth for baby boomers: We’re not getting any younger. And because we comprise 26% of this country’s population, our aging means that disease demographics are shifting on a national scale. Case in point: By the year 2050, the number of people aged 65 and older who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease is expected to nearly triple.
That’s according to new research from the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging in Chicago, which estimates that the number of older Americans afflicted with Alzheimer’s will surge from today’s 5 million to 13.8 million within the next four decades. To reach that conclusion, experts relied on a detailed demographic assessment of Alzheimer’s disease incidence, along with census information and population projections.
“The most significant risk factor in Alzheimer’s disease is age,” notes study co-author Jennifer Weuve, ScD, an assistant professor of internal medicine at Rush University. “And by the year 2050, the sheer number of people 85 and older will be unprecedented.”
Despite the disconcerting finding, Weuve also notes that the projection isn’t set in stone: Because Alzheimer’s disease develops over several years, researchers believe that prevention strategies are most likely to be effective at younger ages–and there’s still time for plenty of us to make healthy changes. “The time is now to have a huge influence on the future epidemic,” Weuve says.