Aug 1, 2023 - Health

Alzheimer's prevalence in Texas

Estimated share of older adults in Texas 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: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

An estimated 12% of Texas adults ages 65 and older 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.

What they found: For the study, published in the journal Alzheimer's & Dementia, researchers estimated the rates of Alzheimer's disease among adults age 65 or older in a given area 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 population estimates from the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics.
  • The risk of Alzheimer's increases exponentially with age. Women had a higher risk of Alzheimer's than men, and Black and Hispanic individuals had a higher risk than white people.

Zoom in: In Harris County, an estimated 12.2% of people 65 and older are living with Alzheimer's, according to the study.

The big picture: The East and the Southeast have the country's highest rates of Alzheimer's disease, according to the study.

  • Texas (about 459,300), California (719,700) and Florida (579,900) have the highest estimated number of residents with Alzheimer's — though, of course, these are the three most populous states.
  • Maryland (12.9%), New York (12.7%) and Mississippi (12.5%) topped the list of U.S. states by estimated percentage of people 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 tell only 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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