TYLER, Texas (KETK) — The Alzheimer’s Association has released their annual “Facts and Figures” report for 2022, covering many topics regarding the affects of the disease on individuals, caregivers and the nation as a whole.

Alzheimer’s has affected millions of Americans over the years and with current projections, the number of those affected is expected to rise, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. This is just one of the many figures included in this year’s report.

The organization has compiled a list of findings from their 2022 report, which are listed below. To view the full report, click here.

What is the current and future impact of Alzheimer’s?

The number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s continues to rise. Currently, an estimated 6.5 million Americans age 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s — about 1 in 9. By 2050, the number is projected to reach nearly 13 million.

1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia. Deaths due to Alzheimer’s disease between 2000 and 2019 have more than doubled.

What does the special report attached to this year’s Facts and Figures entail?

This year’s accompanying special report takes a closer look at Mild Cognitive Impairment, or MCI, and the lack of awareness amongst the general public and primary care physicians when it comes to diagnosis and treatment. MCI can be but is not always a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease, and it is estimated that 12-18% of adults age 60 and over may have MCI.

What is the difference between Alzheimer’s disease and Mild Cognitive Impairment?

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI), is characterized by subtle changes in memory and thinking that are serious enough to be noticed by the person affected and by family members and friends, but may not affect the individual’s ability to carry out everyday activities. This is not part of normal aging.

While everyone who develops Alzheimer’s disease will have passed through the stage of Mild Cognitive Impairment, only about 1/3 of adults with MCI will go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease. And some individuals with MCI can revert to normal cognition. Research into identifying which individuals living with MCI are more likely to develop dementia is a major goal of current research, potentially enabling earlier disease intervention and treatment.

How does one distinguish between MCI and normal aging?

In normal aging, a person may occasionally forget names and words and misplace things. With mild cognitive impairment, the person frequently forgets conversations and information that one would ordinarily remember such as appointments and other planned events.

Such routine tasks as paying bills might become overwhelming, it might be very hard to concentrate on tasks, and one’s judgement and reasoning may become impaired.

What is the benefit of knowing you have MCI?

Distinguishing between cognitive issues resulting from normal aging, those associated with the broad syndrome of MCI, and those related to MCI due to Alzheimer’s is critical in helping individuals, their families and physicians prepare for future treatment and care.

It’s important that people experiencing cognitive changes seek help as soon as possible for diagnosis and possible treatment, and those who have been diagnosed with MCI should be reevaluated every six months to determine if symptoms have progressed.

When will new Alzheimer’s treatments be available?

The relatively recent discovery that Alzheimer’s begins 20 years or more before the onset of symptoms helps explain why it has been difficult to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease effectively. However, scientific advances are likely to help us identify effective methods to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease.

There are currently 104 treatments in development and potentially moving closer to review for approvals after clinical trials. There are new advances in the identification of biomarkers for Alzheimer’s which enable earlier detection of the disease, giving those affected the opportunity to address modifiable risk factors that may delay cognitive decline and participate in clinical studies of potential new treatments.

Is there anything to be done to prevent dementias?

Experts believe most cases of Alzheimer’s, like other common chronic diseases, develops as a result of multiple factors rather than a single cause. The greatest risk factors are older age, genetics and family history.

The brain changes that cause Alzheimer’s are thought to begin 20 years or more before symptoms start, which implies that there is a substantial window of time in which we can intervene in the progression of the disease.

So, although age, genetics and family history cannot be changed, other risk factors — such as physical activity, smoking, education, staying socially and mentally active, blood pressure and diet – may be modified to reduce the risk. The Lancet Commission on dementia prevention, intervention and care suggest that addressing modifiable risk factors might prevent or delay up to 40% of dementia cases, and this has been the subject of much research.