HealthDay News — Alzheimer’s disease claims nearly twice as many American lives annually as it did just 15 years ago, according to the 2017 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report, published March 7 by the Alzheimer’s Association.

The report also found that 5.3 million American seniors aged 65 and older now live with the disease. That represents approximately 10% of all the nation’s seniors, and that number is projected to rise to 13.8 million by 2050. Nearly half a million seniors are expected to develop the disease in 2017 alone. Another 200,000 Americans under the age of 65 are also currently diagnosed with the disease. 

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Among the report’s additional findings: Alzheimer’s is now the fifth leading cause of death among seniors; the sixth leading cause of fatalities among all Americans; and the only disease among the nation’s top 10 causes of mortality for which there is no prevention, no way to slow progression, and no cure. It costs $259 billion a year for Alzheimer’s care. That amount is expected to reach $1.1 trillion by 2050.

Another highlighted concern: In 2016, more than 15 million Alzheimer’s caregivers provided 18.2 billion hours of unpaid care, valued at $230.1 billion. And those caregivers experience their own health consequences: More than a third (35%) report their health has worsened since assuming caregiver duties, compared with 19% of caregivers for older people without dementia. Depression and anxiety also affect dementia caregivers more often.

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