Report: Louisiana’s Diagnosis Rate for Early-Onset Dementia is High

Elderly Care Old And Young

BATON ROUGE – The number of commercially insured Americans age 30 to 64 diagnosed with early-onset dementia or Alzheimer’s disease increased by 200% from 2013 to 2017. Louisiana ranked 42nd out of the 50 states with its combined diagnosis rate of 10.1 per 10,000 commercially insured adults in the four-year study period (2013–2017). Louisiana’s four-year rate was well above the national figure of 8.7.

 These findings come from a new Blue Cross Blue Shield Association report titled Early-Onset Dementia and Alzheimer’s Rates Grow for Younger Americans.

For early-onset Alzheimer’s disease only, Louisiana’s rate of 2.7 per 10,000 members in the four-year period is also one of the nation’s worst and slightly higher than the national rate of 2.2. 

 “We are seeing an increase in the diagnosis of early-onset dementia and Alzheimer’s disease over the past four years, especially in the South,” said Dr. Emily Vincent, medical director at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana. “It is important that the medical community continues efforts in research for disease prevention and awareness of symptoms to aid in diagnosis.”

Additional findings from the study include:

  • These conditions are more common in women, who make up 58% of those diagnosed.
  • The number diagnosed with these conditions increased 373% among 30- to 44-year-olds, 311% among 45- to 54-year-olds and 143% among 55- to 64-year-olds from 2013 to 2017.
  • In 2017, about 131,000 people between the ages of 30 and 64 were diagnosed with either form of dementia.

The report comes at a time when the Alzheimer’s Association, the oldest advocacy group for people affected by the disease, is sending a message of optimism and progress. The first new drug for Alzheimer’s in 15 years could be approved this year, and federal funding for Alzheimer’s and dementia research has skyrocketed.

Yet the BCBSA report found that the average age of a person living with either form of dementia is 49. The report indicates an increase in Alzheimer’s diagnoses among younger generations, which can lead to even greater economic consequences and mental stress for those that provide them care. Nearly 16 million family members and friends provided more than 18 billion hours of unpaid care to persons with Alzheimer’s disease in America, costing an estimated $221 billion.

These added caregiving responsibilities are felt particularly by women, who make up 63% of this caregiving subset. The added stress and time commitment these caregivers incur can also lead to depression, social isolation and financial stress.

 “This is a troubling health trend that has an effect on the entire family and the caregivers of individuals diagnosed with these conditions,” said Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana’s Vincent. “There must be continued efforts to provide the medical and social support needed by individuals with this diagnosis and those who care for them.”

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