Based on current life expectancy trends, older Americans will begin to comprise a larger portion of the U.S. population. One consequence of that dynamic will be more Americans being afflicted by diseases and conditions that typically affect the elderly.
Those of the Baby Boomer generation, identified as people ages 51-69 (born after World War II), represent 74.9 million Americans, according to the Pew Research Center, making them the second-largest generation in the country. By 2050, the Baby Boomers will number 16.6 million and range in age from 84 to 103.
Those trends are pointing towards an older and older United States – which is positive but one that will come with new societal issues. Among those issues will be an increased need to conduct medical research studies in the hope of making progress against deadly and debilitating diseases that more generally affect the elderly. Atlanta Center for Medical Research is committed to studies whose goal is to improve the lives of the oldest among us, especially those suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease which have no cure.
According to the CDC, Alzheimer's ranked sixth among the leading causes of death in the United States in 2013, with 93,541 Americans succumbing from the disease. (Diabetes, which also disproportionately affects older Americans, was next with 76,488 deaths.)
Of the 5.4 million Americans with Alzheimer's, an estimated 5.2 million people are age 65 and older, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Remarkably, one in nine people age 65 and older has Alzheimer's disease.
While Parkinson’s may not lead directly to as many deaths, it takes an incredible toll on sufferers, their caregivers and families. As many as one million Americans live with Parkinson's, according to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. Approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson's disease each year, and this number does not reflect the thousands of cases that go undetected.
If you or a loved one have these Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s diseases in your family history or currently suffer from them, you may want to consider participating in a medical research study.