New forecast estimates 6 million with Alzheimer’s, cognitive impairment

A new study estimates 6 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease or mild cognitive impairment – a possible precursor to the disease.

Researchers at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health expect the number to more than double to 15 million people by 2060, as the population ages. Researchers estimate that about 5.7 million Americans will have mild cognitive impairment and another 9.3 million will have dementia due to Alzheimer’s.

Of the 9 million with dementia in 2060, the researchers estimate about 4 million people will need an intensive level of care, such as a nursing home.

The new forecast reflects a different methodology than used in the past.

Scientists are now trying to account for people with biomarkers or other indicators of preclinical Alzheimer’s disease but who do not have impairment or Alzheimer’s dementia, according to the National Institutes of Health, which funded the research.

The scientists estimate nearly 47 million Americans had preclinical Alzheimer’s disease. People with signs of preclinical disease are at an increased risk to develop Alzheimer’s, but the scientists say many may not progress to clinical disease.

Still, the scientists say the results underscore the need for secondary preventions for people with Alzheimer’s or who are likely to develop clinical disease.

Marissa Harshman

Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at or 360-735-4546.

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