Carol Sipfle is the Executive Director for the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Iowa Chapter. “The number of Iowans with Alzheimer’s Disease has gone up. And the 2017 estimates are that 64,000 Iowans have Alzheimer’s, and that’s compared to 63,000 the last few years,” Sipfle says. The projections in the report show Alzheimer’s cases increasing by around three percent by 2020, and then jumping by around 14 percent to 73,000 in Iowa by 2025.
Sipfle says the increase is due to people living longer as aging is the highest risk factor. “Secondly we expect the cases of the disease to increase because of better ways of diagnosing the disease and reporting it. So, we expect more people to have it,” Sipfle says. Alzheimer’s disease most often strikes Iowans who are over the age of 65 and those age 85 and over account for nearly half the cases.
“It is the sixth leading cause of death in Iowa, “Sipfle says, “and people don’t think of Alzheimer’s disease as a cause of death. But it is the sixth leading cause of death in Iowa, as it turns out.” In Iowa, 1,313 people died from Alzheimer’s in 2014, the fifth most people to die from the disease among the states.
The impact of the disease goes well beyond those who have it — as the report says the cost of caring for Alzheimer’s and other patients with dementia is estimated at $259 billion dollars in 2017.”It’s staggering, I think in part because there is no known way to prevent, treat or cure Alzheimer’s,” Sipfle says. “So, all of those costs are really put into caregiving and just trying to help the person with the disease live a comfortable life during the duration of the disease.” Sipfle says the positive news is there is a lot of research underway.
She says some of the trends in research are to look for biomarkers in the blood to detect Alzheimer’s disease or changes in the brain long before the symptoms are identified. “And that is encouraging, because then if we can determine what that is then medications can be developed to slow the onset of Alzheimer’s disease,” Sipfle says. Sipfle says there is a worldwide study on ways to prevent the disease.
“These are all encouraging — they all however do take time and of course take money to speed up the process and find solutions to this problem,” Sipfle says. Sipfle encourages anyone who has any questions about Alzheimer’s disease to give them a call.
“We have a toll-free number that is answered 24-7, which is 1-800-272-3900. And we also have a website that is just rich with information and resources, and that website is www.alz.org,” Sipfle says. You can find out more about the Alzheimer’s report at alz.org/facts.