Jul 27, 2023 - Health

Mapped: Arkansas' Alzheimer's rates

Estimated share of older adults in Arkansas 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 11.3% of Arkansans 65 and older have Alzheimer's disease, per a new study.

Why it matters: It's critical for public health officials and policymakers 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.

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

  • Arkansas has the 19th-highest rate in the nation.

Zoom in: NWA Alzheimer's rates are lower than the state average, with 10.2% of adults over 65 in Washington County and 10.4% in Benton County affected by the disease. The south and eastern parts of the state generally have the highest rates.

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 tell 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," the experts write.

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