News Release, Alzheimer’s Association

[McLean, VA] March 18, 2020 – A new survey of primary care physicians finds that 9 in 10 expect to see an increase in people living with dementia during the next five years. Half say the medical profession is not prepared to meet this demand.

The Alzheimer’s Association 2020 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report provides an in-depth look at the latest national and state-specific statistics on Alzheimer’s prevalence, incidence, mortality, costs and impact on caregivers. The report estimates there are currently more than 5 million Americans age 65+ living with Alzheimer’s – a number expected to nearly triple by 2050. New disease-related statistics for Maryland revealed the following:

  • The current number of Maryland residents aged 65 and older living with Alzheimer’s is 110,000. That number is expected to increase to 130,000 in 2025.
  • There are an estimated 294,000 Maryland residents serving as unpaid family caregivers.
  • In 2019, those Maryland residents provided 335 million hours of unpaid care valued at almost $4.4 billion ($4,389,000,000).

“The new Facts and Figures report shows that Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias continue to be a significant burden for too many families in Maryland,” said Kate Rooper, president of the Alzheimer’s Association National Capital Area Chapter, which serves Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s Counties in Maryland, as well as the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia. “Alzheimer’s disease is a triple threat, with soaring prevalence, lack of treatment and enormous costs. We must continue to work aggressively to advance new treatments that can stop or slow the progression of Alzheimer’s, while also continuing to provide care and support services to help all those affected.”

For the first time, the Facts and Figures report includes a special report “On the Front Lines: Primary Care Physicians and Alzheimer’s Care in America,” which found that 82% of primary care physicians say they are on the front lines of providing dementia care, but not all are confident in their care for patients with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Among the survey findings:

  • 22% had no residency training in dementia diagnosis and care. Of the 78% who did, two-thirds reported that the amount was “very little.”
  • 27% report they are “never” or only “sometimes comfortable” answering patient questions about Alzheimer’s or other dementias.
  • 39% report they are “never” or only “sometimes comfortable” making a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or other dementias.

While one-third of primary care providers say they refer dementia patients to specialists at least once a month, more than half say there are not enough dementia care specialists in their area to meet patient demand, a problem more common in rural areas. A state-by-state analysis of the number of geriatricians needed to meet future care needs of seniors living with dementia revealed severe shortages in several states. In 2019, there were 150 practicing geriatricians in Maryland. It is estimated that 288 are needed to meet the future dementia care needs of Maryland seniors in 2050 – a 92% increase.

Full text of the 2020 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report, including the accompanying special report, “On the Front Lines: Primary Care Physicians and Alzheimer’s Care in America,” can be viewed alz.org/facts.