Alzheimer’s Disease  

Statistics about Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging. It is a devastating disorder of the brain’s nerve cells that impairs memory, thinking, and behavior and leads, ultimately, to death. The impact of Alzheimer’s on individuals, families and our health care system makes the disease one of our nation’s greatest medical, social and fiscal challenges.
  • An estimated 4.5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease. The number of Americans with Alzheimer’s has more than doubled since 1980.1
  • The number of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease will continue to grow – by 2050 the number of individuals with Alzheimer’s could range from 11.3 million to 16 million.1
  • Finding a treatment that could delay onset by five years could reduce the number of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease by nearly 50 percent after 50 years.2
  • In a Gallup poll commissioned by the Alzheimer’s Association,
    1 in 10 Americans said that they had a family member with Alzheimer’s and 1 in 3 knew someone with the disease.3
  • Increasing age is the greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s. One in 10 individuals over 65 and nearly half of those over 85 are affected.4 Rare, inherited forms of Alzheimer’s disease can strike individuals as early as their 30s and 40s.5
  • A person with Alzheimer’s disease will live an average of eight years and as many as 20 years or more from the onset of symptoms as estimated by relatives.6  From the time of diagnosis, people with Alzheimer's disease survive about half as long as those of similar age without dementia. Average survival time is affected by age at diagnosis and severity of other medical conditions.7
  • National direct and indirect annual costs of caring for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease are at least $100 billion, according to estimates used by the Alzheimer’s Association and the National Institute on Aging.8
  • Alzheimer’s disease costs American business $61 billion a year, according to a report commissioned by the Alzheimer’s Association. Of that figure, $24.6 billion covers Alzheimer health care and $36.5 billion covers costs related to caregivers of individuals with Alzheimer’s, including lost productivity, absenteeism and worker replacement.9
  • More than 7 out of 10 people with Alzheimer’s disease live at home, where almost 75 percent of their care is provided by family and friends.6 The remainder is “paid’ care costing an average of $12,500 per year. Families pay almost all of that out of pocket.10
  • Half of all nursing home residents have Alzheimer’s disease or a related disorder.11
  • The average cost for nursing home care is $42,000 per year but can exceed $70,000 per year in some areas of the country.12
  • The average lifetime cost of care for an individual with Alzheimer’s is $174,000.8
  • By 2010, Medicare costs for beneficiaries with Alzheimer’s are expected to increase 54.5 percent, from $31.9 billion in 2000 to $49.3 billion, and Medicaid expenditures on residential dementia care will increase 80 percent, from $18.2 billion to $33 billion in 2010, a report commissioned by the Alzheimer’s Association concludes.13
  • The Alzheimer’s Association has awarded more than $165 million in research grants since 1982, according to our audited annual financial statements.
  • The federal government estimates spending approximately $640 million for Alzheimer’s disease research in fiscal year 2003.14

For more information and a printable version of these statistics, see Basic Facts and Statistics.

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For questions or further information on statistics, please contact the Alzheimer’s Association Benjamin B. Green-Field Library and Resources by calling 800.272.3900 or 312.335.9602 or by e-mailing

1 Hebert, LE; Scherr, PA; Bienias, JL; Bennett, DA; Evans, DA. “Alzheimer Disease in the U.S. Population: Prevalence Estimates Using the 2000 Census.” Archives of Neurology August 2003; 60 (8): 1119 – 1122.

2 Brookmeyer, R; Gray, S; Kawas, C. “Projections of Alzheimer’s Disease in the United States and the Public Health Impact of Delaying Disease Onset.” American Journal of Public Health 1998; 88(9): 1337 – 1342.

3 1992 Gallup survey of 1,015 individuals. For more information, please contact our Green-Field Library.

4 Evans, DA; Funkenstein, HH; Albert, MS; et al. “Prevalence of Alzheimer’s Disease in a Community Population of Older Persons: Higher than Previously Reported.” JAMA 1989; 262(18): 2552 – 2556.

5 Bird, TD; Sumi, SM; Nemens, EJ; Nochlin, D; Schellenberg, G; et al. “Phenotypic Heterogeneity in Familial Alzheimer’s Disease: A Study of 24 Kindreds.” Annals of Neurology 1989; 25(1): 12 – 25.

6 Losing a Million Minds: Confronting the Tragedy of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias. U.S. Congress Office of Technology Assessment; U.S. Government Printing Office, 1987; p. 14.

7 Larson, EB, Shadlen, M-F, et al. “Survival after Initial Diagnosis of Alzheimer Disease.” Annals of Internal Medicine, 6 April 2004; pp. 501 - 509.

8 Ernst, RL; Hay, JW. “The U.S. Economic and Social Costs of Alzheimer’s Disease Revisited.” American Journal of Public Health 1994; 84(8): 1261 – 1264. This study cites figures based on 1991 data, which were updated in the journal’s press release to 1994 figures. Cited in 2001 – 2002 Alzheimer’s Disease Progress Report. National Institutes of Health publication number 03-5333, July 2003; p. 2.

9 Koppel, R. Alzheimer’s Disease: The Costs to U.S. Businesses in 2002. Washington, D.C.: Alzheimer’s Association; 2002.

10 Rice, DP; et al. “The Economic Burden of Alzheimer’s Disease.” Health Affairs, Summer 1993; 12(2): 164 – 176.

11 National Nursing Home Survey. National Center for Health Statistics, 1985; p. 49.

12 Unpublished data reported by Alzheimer’s Association chapters in some regions.

13 Medicare and Medicaid Costs for People with Alzheimer’s Disease. Washington, D.C.: April 2001: The Lewin Group; p. 1.

14 Unpublished analysis of federal budget documents by Alzheimer’s Association senior public policy staff.