Sep 18, 2023 - News

Mapped: The impact of Alzheimer's across Ohio

Data: Dhana, et al., 2023, "Prevalence of Alzheimer's disease dementia in the 50 U.S. states and 3,142 counties"; Map: Axios Visuals

An estimated 11.3% of older Ohioans — 236,200 people — are living with Alzheimer's disease, and residents of urban counties like Franklin are disproportionately impacted, per a new study.

Why it matters: It's crucial for public health officials, policymakers and support groups to have a clear grasp of the number of Alzheimer's cases in a given area, to ensure resources are allocated accordingly.

  • That's especially important as our overall population continues to rapidly age.

Details: For the study, researchers estimated rates of Alzheimer's among adults age 65 or older in 2020 based on demographic risk factors, including age, sex and race/ethnicity.

  • They used data from the Chicago Health and Aging Project, a population-based study examining Alzheimer's risk factors, plus estimates from the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics.

Zoom in: Cuyahoga County had the highest number of adults in Ohio with Alzheimer's, at 13.4%.

  • Franklin tied for No. 6 at 11.5% — despite having one of the state's lowest median ages.

Between the lines: Ohio's urban counties have a higher concentration of Black and Hispanic residents, who are more likely to be affected by the disease.

What they're saying: Such information is vital for the Alzheimer's Association, so it can recruit additional volunteers in most-affected areas, Pam Myers, program director for the nonprofit's Central Ohio chapter, tells Axios.

  • Their group supports affected families and works to raise awareness of resources available, warning signs and treatments, like a new disease-slowing drug that received full FDA approval this summer.

Of note: The study researchers cautioned that their approach is incomplete, as demographic risk factors can tell only part of the story.

  • Other factors — including cardiovascular health and lifestyle — also play a role, but "such data are unavailable at the county level, and we cannot incorporate them into our estimates," they wrote.

What's next: This year's local Walk to End Alzheimer's begins at noon Sunday at the Columbus Commons and has already raised $523,000 toward care, caregiver support and research.

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