Jul 31, 2023 - Health

Alzheimer's prevalence in Michigan

Estimated share of older adults in Michigan with Alzheimer's disease
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 11.2% of adults age 65 or older in Michigan have Alzheimer's disease, per a new study.

Why it matters: It's critical for public health officials, policymakers and others to have a clear look at the number of Alzheimer's cases in a given area, the authors say.

  • Caring for those with the disease cost an estimated $321 billion nationwide last year, much of which came via Medicare and Medicaid, Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick writes.

Details: Published in the journal Alzheimer's & Dementia, study researchers estimated the rates of the disease among adults age 65 or older in a given area based on demographic risk factors, including age, sex and race/ethnicity.

  • They estimate 202,800 out of 1.8 million older people in Michigan have Alzheimer's.
  • They used data from the Chicago Health and Aging Project (a population-based study examining Alzheimer's risk factors), plus population estimates from the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics.

The big picture: The Eastern and Southeastern U.S. have the country's highest rates of Alzheimer's disease, according to the study.

What they found: Maryland (12.9%), New York (12.7%) and Mississippi (12.5%) have the highest estimated percentage of Alzheimer's cases.

  • The country's most populous states — California (719,700), Florida (579,900) and Texas (about 459,300) have the highest estimated number of residents with Alzheimer's.

What they're saying: "These estimates could help public health officials to understand the burden of disease (e.g., demand for caregiver counseling and institutional care) at the county and state levels and develop adequate strategies for identifying and caring for people with [Alzheimer's]," the authors write.

Yes, but: The researchers caution that their approach is incomplete, as demographic-based risk factors can only paint part of the picture.

  • Other risk 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 write.
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